Sunday, March 21, 2004

Jerome Delgado, huh? Stephan Aquin, No! Stephan Aquin, Yes!


In today's La Presse. Jerome Delgado writes 276 words in French (285 in the English Translation) about the most recent something-or-other by the Quebecois boy-genius Marc Seguin. He could've cut it down considerably. But to cut M. Delgado some slack, he does use a bunch of the words to give a history (short as it is) about M. Seguin.

How he could think that the things on paper used to wrap stuff (Kraft paper, you know the type used for paper bags, and flowers) "representent la souffrance humaine, suite logique de la solitude et de la folie qu'il a souvent traitees en peinture." (or in English for the Blokes in the house: "represents the human suffering, logical continuation of loneliness and the madness which it often treated in painting.") is beyond me. In a plainer English, they are thirteen pieces of paper, all about four feet square. Some of them have some gold schmutz either around the border (which does make for a pretty effect) or stuck somewhere sorta near the center. He's then given them all titles along the lines of "Possessed man trying to jump out a window," or "Parents who have made a pact with the devil." You know your standard issue cutesy title that ends up substituting for any sort of content within the drawing, because there ain't no content within the drawing.

What M. Seguin thinks (or at least attempts to make us believe) is content are these ridiculously faint and incomplete drawings, that with the help of the titles might, possibly, and perhaps approximate something that seems like it could, with a certain allowance for artistic license, seem like what is supposed to be there. But given how far from anything they are, I would much prefer to say that M. Seguin has been parked for to long at the artistic parking meter, and should either get a whopping big ticket, or better yet, for 13 unpaid fines, have his artistic license revoked for a spell.

Other than currying favor with the mucky-mucks at Place D'Armes and in Quebec City, I can not understand why Stephan Aquin would have given M. Seguin the necessary space in the museum. The drawings aren't "beaux-arts" they are "boo-arts." But before I go on a rant about M. Aquin and his choices for art in his section of the musee des beaux-arts, I should a) mention that the catalogue for the Pipilotti Rist show from 2000 is now available for $10, good things do come to those who wait. It just seems like I'm going to have to wait until 2007 until I can get a copy of the catalogue for Francoise Sullivan's show. And b) that thankfully the museum mucky-mucks have decided that M. Seguin's exhibit qualifies as part of the permanent collection, so all you need to see it (assuming that you really really really have a need to see bad art) is a pair of eyes. If they had wanted me to shell out $12, I would've demanded my money back on the spot.

But going beyond the bad art, there were a couple of wicked cool, and kick-ass things that, without the bad art, I would not have seen (or perhaps appreciated as much). First and foremost, I gotta give big, humongous props and shout outs to whoever is the lighting designer at the museum (my guess 'cuz the museum web site ain't too helpful is that it was either somebody hired by Paul Tellier, Dan Kelly, or Jacques Dragon - but I could be wrong). Once I had given the stuff by M. Seguin as much time as I was capable of, I ended up having to wait for my companion. While I was doing that I realized that there was this corridor leading off of the exhibit. And when I turned my head, I realized that suddenly the lights there had gone off. Now, what's a museum without lights? And unlike my experience at the McCord (where the lights were off and couldn't be turned on), I sorta thunk that perhaps the folk at this museum might know what they were doing. So I took a chance a waved my arm, and sure as shootin' the lights responded to the hidden motion detector and came on (in a brilliantly organized and staggered manner). I filed this away until my companion had had her fill of M. Seguin (it seems like she has a higher tolerance than I do) and then I said, "check this out!" complete with a massive grin on my face. We approached the darkened corridor and then I waved my hand. The lights came on and we laughed like grade school children.

Now, while in the corridor, there were some good pieces, and some bad pieces. This is where M. Aquin goes from a "no!" to a "huh?" They've got a Robert Walker, a Gregory Crewdson, a Holly King, an Edward Burtynsky and some person named Farley (I unfortunately didn't write down their first name). All of them rock like nobody's business, and I highly recommend that you get your butt down there to see 'em [now that I've made the links, the Robert Walker is not the one that I saw, the Holly King is, and the site for Edward Burtynsky and Gregory Crewdson are there for background info]. What made the moment even more special was that while we were there, my companion and I got into a "discussion" about the nature of digitally manipulating photographs - For the record, I don't like it being classified with regular photography, it should be stuck with other crafts, like quilt making, or knitting. As we were just standing around and talking (with loud voices) the motion detectors thought that we had gone elsewhere, so one wall of lights decided to turn themselves off, this naturally brought our attention to the suddenly dark wall.

Me, being quicker on my feet, waved my hand, sorta like how I assume Charlton Heston did it, and wouldn't you be struck dumbfounded like some bad reincarnation of Archie Moore against Rocky Marciano or Cassius Clay, as the lights graciously decided that yes, I was God. Cool, eh? I recommend trying to hit the museum when there ain't too many folk there so that you can do it yourself, tons o' fun!

But the best was yet to come (and this is where M. Aquin gets his "yes!") after that corridor (for those who don't trust me, it's the one with the landscape photographs) there's another one, with a whack of "Recent Acquisitions!!" (or at least that's what the stickers scream). And there's a Botanski (again my note taking was sloppy) they got two John Currin's (which surprised the hell outs me) a really kick-ass piece by Barry Allikas called "Mile," a Jack Goldstein with 25 different colors in it. And then way in the back, set up in such a way that you can only see it out of the corner of your eye (which is a really good way to be introduced to it) they have this thing made out of LEDs by some guy named Jim Campbell.

It is called "5th Avenue Cutaway #2" and it is owned by somebody named Luc Bellier, and as far as I can figure Daniel Langlois had a hand in making sure it saw the light of day. Basically, you got a grid of those aforementioned LEDs, 24x32, and what Mr. Campbell has done is take some film that he made or borrowed, and through some top secret hush-hush proprietary process he has transformed that film into a red and white sucker that is projected by the LEDs. Take my word for it, it is spectacular. The technology probably ain't so tough (after all, they've been doing it on Time Square for well nigh 60 years, and on the Ginza for slightly less time) but mostly when you see it in those circumstances, you ain't so close. If you don't like it, let me know, and I'll refund your money.

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