Friday, September 24, 2004

Montréal is a strange town


Yesterday was party central, the Biennale was open for business and then down the street at Quartier éphémère, there was a vernissage for Cat Loray and Alexandre David. And while normally the idea is to get a whole whack of people to come to a "party" so that they end up at least being able to say that they had a chance to see the art (like at a well attended vernissage it is really possible to see the art).

Part of the crowd that was here for one of Chris Dyer's vernissages.

Well, last night was flat out bizarre! As the Biennale was being held in the building that used to house the late lamented Montréal Star and more recently the Montréal Gazette the party was held in the lobby. I sort of predicted that there wasn't going to be any art in the lobby, and despite the presence of a video (apparently taken by Claude Gosselin) and some moose antlers with lights in them there wasn't really any art.

Now I can understand the concept of the Biennale wanting to be all museum-like and going "oooh! We can't have anybody spilling wine on the art!" But, they weren't serving any wine, it was all cash bar, beer and liquor - from what I understood the "open bar" happened on Wednesday night, and M. Gosselin has yet another vernissage tonight. It sounds like he wants to be all Zeke's-like and have multiple vernissages for different niches. However, I still find it wince inducing that you need to throw a damn party to get people to see art and then you make it sorta difficult for them to see the art. And don't get me started on the smoking! At one point I counted more people outside the damn building than in the lobby!

So after we had our fill of lobbies Biennales and smoking outside, we decided to take a jaunt over to Quartier éphémère who have a superlative reputation in this town. And the thing that struck me was how every damn soul in the joint was all squished into Cluny (for those of you from out-of-town the restaurant/bar in the same space, but separated from the art by some walls and a couple of doors). There were maybe three people talking and chatting in and around one of Mr. Alexandre's pieces (which are creatively called "Deux choses différentes" or in blokespeak - "Two different things"). But at Quartier éphémère the attitude wasn't museum like, there were people who worked there who were drinking and smoking while walking through the space.

So I figured that this may be one reason why art from Montréal doesn't get any freakin' respect on the international stage, the freakin' people involved in the art world here don't like art! How else can you explain something like 300 people at two vernissages who were refusing to see art?

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