Sunday, September 19, 2004

All Marc Mayer! All the time!!


[update (December 20, 2004: If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, you might like to read my interview with Marc Mayer. Click here.]

If you've been reading the local art press in French, you couldn't help but noticing that the Musée d'Art Contemporain got themselves a new director. His name is Marc Mayer, and by my count, there have been ten separate articles written about him, five alone from Le Devoir.

In chronological order:
Francine Arsenault, Musée d'Art Contemporain press release - 880 words.
Jérôme Delgado, La Presse, Sept. 9 - 647 words.
Nicolas Mavrikakis, Voir, Sept. 9 - 848 words.
Commentary by the readers of Voir, Sept. 9 - 12 - 2,980 words.
Désautels, Radio-Canada, Sept. 9 - 5 minutes, 27 seconds [Windows Media].
Jeanette Kelly, CBC Radio, Sept. 10 - Sept. 10 - 1 minute 27 seconds [Real Audio].
Jérôme Delgado, La Presse, Sept. 11 - 908 words.
Normand Thériault, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 785 words.
Bernard Lamarche, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 1,313 words.
Frédérique Doyon, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 1,152 words.
Frédérique Doyon, Le Devoir, Sept. 18 - 1,274 words.
Nathalie Petrowski, La Presse, Sept. 19 - 1,822 words.

Total amount of words: 12,609. Not bad, eh?

Then some of the fun stuff that had been written previously:
Sarah Milroy, Globe & Mail, July 1 - 866 words.
Toronto Life, November 2000 - 1,004 words.

And, selected quotes:

In the end the Leroy exhibit is a fascinating failure; the kind of show for which one is ultimately, if grudgingly, grateful as it provokes a harder look at the farcical cycles of hype and calculation that fuel the art market. The Power Plant's new curator, Marc Mayer, should be applauded for opening his first season with such a vexing car wreck of an exhibit. - R.M. Vaughan, Feb, 1999.

The Power Plant's new director Marc Mayer, who appears to program shows off the covers of glossy art magazines. Perpetually star-struck, Mayer has offered us one Next Big Thing show after the other, most of them underwhelming. I enjoy flash as much as anybody, but Mayer walks around his own openings looking like he's left a car idling outside to whisk him to the airport. Is the Power Plant just a résumé pit stop? Mr. Mayer, please start showing up at smaller events or risk losing the already slipping respect of local artists. - R.M. Vaughan, Dec, 1999.

Marc Mayer is highly regarded for his articulate organization of many important contemporary exhibitions. His intellectual vigor, his wide-ranging interest and curatorial experience in contemporary art, and his significant management abilities made him an ideal choice for this critical leadership position at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. - Arnold Lehman, June 2001.
Ignoring the personal differences between Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Mayer (although they do make for some delicious reading) it will be interesting to see how his tenure plays out. Mr. Vaughan comes out as an extremely good predictor of the future, how many years will Mr. Mayer stay in Montreal? Mr. Mavrikakis asked him that very question (in French) and Mr. Mayer responded: "I can't make any promises." On the other hand, in talking to Ms. Petrowski he said "I want to plant myself somewhere and stop moving all the time. Montreal seems to be the ideal city in which to do this." Hmmm, what happened in a week?

Then, much has been made over Mr. Mayer's "seeing the light" in front of a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting twenty years ago while a student at McGill, the CBC, La Presse and Le Devoir all mention it. I'd love to know which painting it was, and as Mr. Mayer was working on a Basquiat retrospective at the BMA before he departed, if it will included, and then if MACM is now going to be included on the tour schedule. Ms. Petrowski asked him that, and as of now, the answer is "no," it isn't coming to Montreal (or at least the MACM).

Ms. Petrowski also did the silly what are you reading/listening to/watching stuff at the bottom of her column, and the only thing fairly interesting there is that he still finds Sophie Ristelhueber inspiring. The reason that I find it interesting, is that he curated a show of her art when he was at the Power Plant in Toronto, and I was quite struck with he photographs, too. According to me (too) Ms. Ristelhueber's work rocks.

Then, the other thing that stuck me about all the articles was in hyping the MACM, most of them parrotted that it is the only "contemporary art museum in Canada." With the differences being that the MACM collects art, while the Power Plant and Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery just exhibit. Umm, what about MOCCA?

And finally, there are the de-rigeur "reaction" articles. And, jeez! I'd hate to be in Marcel Brisebois' shoes right now. While everybody has been uniformly excited about Mr. Mayer coming to town, the quotes haven't been as kind to the outgoing director. Pierre-Francois Ouellette says "we need somebody passionate, who constantly repeats the need for art in today's society." Which I read as M. Ouellette believing that M. Brisebois didn't have it. M. Ouellette also mentioned in passing that a friend of his said that Mr. Mayer went to galleries when he was in Toronto, which juxtaposes in an interesting fashion with what Mr. Vaughan wrote in 1999 - although to be fair, Mr. Mayer was in Toronto for two more years after that was written, and his behavior could have changed.

There's lots and lots more to be mined from all the articles written, and I haven't even gotten to the radio interviews - but I do have some other work that needs to be done. And after I've finished this entry, there will have been 13,573 words written about Mr. Mayer and his new job.

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