Zoë Tousignant - Curator Photography - McCord Stewart Museum

Collections and Research

Photo : Laura Dumitriu © Musée McCord Museum, 2019

Zoë Tousignant

Curator, Photography

I believe that the history of photography is not just a story of images, but also of people, spaces and objects.


Zoë Tousignant is a photography historian specializing in photography produced in Quebec and Canada. Born and raised in Montreal, she has been actively involved in the city’s art and photography communities for over two decades. She has previously held the positions of Associate Curator, Photography at the McCord Museum and Curator at Artexte. She also worked for several years as an independent curator. Her many curatorial projects have included close collaborations with photographers such as Serge Clément, Carlos Ferrand, Marisa Portolese and Gabor Szilasi.

Zoë Tousignant holds a PhD in Art History from Concordia University and an MA in Museum Studies from the University of Leeds, UK. Her doctoral research, which was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, focussed on the use of photography in popular illustrated magazines published in Montreal and Toronto during the Interwar Period.

Her research has focussed on examining print culture as a vital form of dissemination for photography; retracing the networks of people and institutions that constitute the field of visual culture; and elucidating the affective bonds created by photographs and photographic practice. She is a member of the FQRSC-funded research group Formes actuelles de l’expérience photographique: épistémologies, pratiques, histoires, based at Concordia University, the Université du Québec à Montréal, the Université de Montréal and Université Laval.

She believes that the McCord Museum’s photography collection offers a fantastic opportunity to engage with the medium in all its facets—as art, propaganda, memorial device, social documentation, scientific data, and more. For her, the collection itself is proof of how the history of photography should be written.
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“Introduction.” In Les lieux des savoirs photographiques : le laboratoire, edited by Martha Langford and Zoë Tousignant, 9-16. Montreal: FAEP and Artexte, 2021.

“Ewa Zebrowski: The Photobook as a Space of Collaboration,” Ciel variable 116 (Winter 2021): 45-53.

“Lynne Cohen,” “Margaret Watkins,” and “Edith S. Watson.” In Une histoire mondiale des femmes photographes, edited by Luce Lebart and Marie Robert, 333, 124, 63. Paris: Éditions Textuel, 2020.

“Refuse and Refusal in the Art of Donigan Cumming.” In Body-to-Body: The Works of Donigan Cumming. Montreal: Videographe, 2020. Online publication: https://publications.vitheque.com/en/ap/body-to-body-the-works-of-donigan-cumming

“Gabor’s Art World.” In Gabor Szilasi: The Art World in Montreal, 1960-1980, edited by Zoë Tousignant, 20-25. Montreal: McCord Museum, in collaboration with McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019.

“Revisiter/Revisiting.” In Serge Clément: Archipel, 5-9. Paris & Montreal: Éditions Loco & Occurrence, 2018.

“The Material Conditions of a Conceptual Artwork.” In Bill Vazan. All over la planète, edited by Marie J. Jean, 27-31. Montreal: VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine, 2018.

 Canadian Photography Magazines, 1970-1990: Reconsidering a History of Photography in Print. Exhibition pamphlet. Montreal: Artexte, 2016.

“Reading Ciel variable: The Magazine as Site of Photographic History,” Ciel variable online (Fall 2015): http://cielvariable.ca/en/reading-ciel-variable-the-magazine-as-site-of-photographic-history-zoe-tousignant/

“Campeau, Carrière, Clément: accumulations.” In Campeau, Carrière, Clément: accumulations, 3–14. Montreal: Éditions Simon Blais, 2015.

“Forgotten Photography: The Case of Béla F. Egyedi,” Ciel variable 99 (Winter 2015): 54-63.

La Revue populaire et Le Samedi – Objets de diffusion de la modernité photographique au Québec, 1935-1945,” Revue de Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec 5 (2013) online publication.

“Jules-Ernest Livernois: Le regard moderne d’un photographe.” In Québec, une ville et ses artistes, edited by Yves Lacasse and Denis Castonguay, 202-213. Québec: Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, 2008.

 “Relocating the Vernacular: The Yves Beauregard Collection at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec,” Archivaria: The Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists 65 (Summer 2008): 61-73.


“Carlos Ferrand Zavala et Zoë Tousignant, en dialogue avec Marco Bertozzi,” Labdoc (Le laboratoire de recherche sur les pratiques audiovisuelles documentaires), UQAM, October 21, 2021.

“Exposer le passé (récent) de la photographie aujourd’hui,” Actualités de l’obsolète: journée d’études sur le(s) temps du rétro, Université de Montréal, November 8, 2019.

“‘Comment se fabrique Le Samedi’: The Ephemeral Photographic Image at Work,” conference of the Universities Art Association of Canada (UAAC), Concordia University, November 1-3, 2012.

“Reproducing the Modern: Photography and Canadian Illustrated Magazines in the 1920s and 1930s,” Photographie, mobilité et intermédialité workshop, Université de Montréal and CRI – Centre de recherche sur l’intermédialité, April 9, 2011.

“Make it New(s): Photographic Modernism and the Representation of Contemporaneity in The Canadian Magazine,” Imaginaires du présent: photographie, politique et poétique de l’actualité conference, Université du Québec à Montréal, October 22-23, 2010.

“Relocating the Vernacular: From the Private Collection to the Museum of Fine Arts,” Images of Society: Variable Trajectories symposium, McCord Museum, September 20, 2007.

Not to be missed!

Not to be missed!