Friday, December 19, 2003

What a twisted web is weaved


I was finally able to get around to reading the latest issue of Canadian Art, [Full disclosure: The magazine published an amazing and wonderful article about me and the gallery last year, I will forever be grateful to Rick for getting it into print and Richard for writing it. See the link on the right to read it.] and the thing that struck me was how self-referential the issue was. Sorta like a tail-eating snake (Ouroboros, sorry couldn't resist the big word - thank heaven for Google!) although now upon some reflection, I think I prefer the image of a puppy chasing its tail. I'll leave it up to you to figure out what the differences are.

But to get to the meat of the matter, a quick glance at the table of contents and it seems like a pretty much regular issue. But then in going through it everything swings back to itself.

Bernard Lamarche is mentioned as one of the "new" guard, and he has an article in the issue talking about "the key players shaping art in Montreal today." His article makes reference to Nicolas Baier (yet another of the "new" guard) who had a show at the Musee d'Arts Contemporain, who's out going director is featured in an article on page 44 of the issue.

Or what about this head spin? Alain Paiement is the artist on the cover and also one of the seven artists mentioned in Lamarche's article, he had a show at UQaM which was curated by Anne-Marie Ninacs, who is yet another one of the "new" guard. Do you have whiplash yet?

Or this one? Pierre-Francois Ouelette ("new" guard) -> Rewind review of John Latour's show at his gallery -> John Latour is Assistant curator at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery -> General Idea's touring exhibition is reviewed twice on its Montreal stop.

I'd prefer to focus on what is missing. Why no mention of the Centre des arts contemporains du Qu�bec � Montr�al? Perte de signal? Centre international d'art contemporain de Montr�al? Louise D�ry? Sylvie Gilbert? Maurice Achard? Are they "old" guard? Or are they not worthy?

As for missing artists, Dominique Blain, the Sanchez Brothers, Kamila Wozniakowska? BGL?

And as for obvious articles that should have been written, what about an "overview" of the art world here? Instead of an interview with Marcel Brisebois that feeds his ego. What about an interview with him that focuses on the art that he has been responsible for introducing to the public? The interview mentions Wagner's operas more than any contemporary Montreal artist. The two tiny pictures of previous exhibitions are from non-Montreal artists - and I won't even get into the picture of M. Brisebois.

Then touching on the interview with Guido Molinari, how about this for an oblique comment? It strikes me that Canadian Art magazine takes the same view about Montreal artists as Mr. Molinari does about contemporary painting. [see page 55 of the issue]

There is way too much happening in Montreal, and even if you just focus on the art, it is impossible to comprehensively cover it in one 114-page magazine. Richard Rhodes, in his introduction states that the contemporary art world in Montreal "was intimate, dramatic and timeless in its concerns, and a bit surprised by an outside gaze." Although I imagine that Mr. Rhodes saw an awful lot of art while he was living here, to give the impression that he "knows" and "saw" it all, is ridiculous. Canadian Art has readers who do not have any prior knowledge of Montreal and Montreal artists. Coming out and stating that what they are doing is just a sampling of the stuff going down here would have been extremely helpful. Or on the flip side coming out and stating that anybody and everybody not mentioned in the issue is not worth the air required to even mention their name would be equally good.

I realize that there are a whole whack of things involved in getting a magazine to print, that I'm not completely aware of, but I would hope that a Vancouver issue, or a Halifax issue, or a Saskatoon issue would be a little bit more explicit about its mandate. As I mentioned earlier, judging by the turn out for the launch party, I would imagine that there were a bunch of annoyed folk who's noses were out of joint at not being mentioned. Whether you believe me or not ? I'm not one of them.

To sum up, I like the idea of Canadian Art branching out from the Toronto-centric nature that seems pervasive in everything Canadian, but I hope that the next one will be better.

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