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Monday, February 21, 2005

Almost everybody piles on William Kentridge

Howdy!

I'm certain that there are more reviews out there, but I'm busy right now, so I'm not gonna track down each and every one. However, let's dive in with what little time I have.

Voir - Nicolas Mavrikakis, 661 words. Getting the easy stuff out of the way first, M. Mavrikakis limits his name dropping, to an relatively small number, four. The intriguing thing is, that it seems that he thinks absolutely everybody who reads his column will know German Expressionism sufficiently well, that Beckman and Grosz, don't require their first names (Max and George, respectively) with Norman McLaren (id'd as Canadian) and Georges Méliès (id'd as French) do. Or is it that M. Mavrikakis thinks that because McLaren and Méliès are filmmakers while Beckman and Grosz are artists, his readers would need the extra help. The other funny/silly/choose your own adjective is how "Stone Age filmmaking," used in the press release from the museum, translates into "Stone Gar filmmaking" in his article. Maybe it has something to do with that funny South African accent. Beyond that, it is an alright review. - B-

Voir - Readers, 1,307 words. Félix Faucher, Céline Lenoir and Paul Daoust go into way more detail both on a descriptive level and on a theoretical level - A

La Presse - Jérôme Delgado, 657 words. Scratch your chin thoughtfully, would'ya? Who would've thunk? M. Delgado tosses up something interesting. He writes "MAC nous offre probablement un de ses meilleurs coups des dernières années. Incontournable. Mais- parce qu'il y a toujours un mais-, ce n'est pas une expo maison." Which translate into blokespeak as: The Contemporary, offers us one of the best hits in the past couple of years. Amazing but true. But, because there's always a but, it isn't an exhibit they organized themselves.

Now there are two ways to look at this. First, as it was agreed to long ago by Marcel Brisebois (the ex- head honcho at MACM) M. Delgado feels that sufficient time has passed so that he can safely slag M. Brisebois without fear of retaliation. Or (and I think this is more likely) He (or his editors) had been questioned about the lack of reviews of MACM in La Presse, and he decided to publicly explain why there weren't that many - as it is standard issue to not review a show here, if the reviewer doesn't like it. Given my recent discussion with M. Delgado, maybe he thinks that MACM is "marginal, méconnu, [et] hors-circuit."

The other thing that I found interesting about his review is that he wrote "Mais c'est en fin d'expo que l'aventure Kentridge prend toute sa magnitude." Where, to me the important part is [my blokespeak translation] "But, at the end of the exhibit..." [my emphasis]. Yes, exhibitions are hung in a specific order, and there is a certain linear nature to looking at one (first I look at this, then I look at that...) After having seen the darn show, I would strongly disagree with M. Delgado about it having a beginning and an end. In the first, large gallery there's gotta be something like a gazillion and half things all willy-nilly on the walls, then if you turn your head ninety degrees you see this humongous video making noises at you, but if you go to look at that, you're gonna miss the two other, slightly quieter videos on either side of the passageway to the big video. then the rest of the videos and drawings are scattered, while not exactly willy-nilly (also called "salon-style" for those of you with degrees) aren't exactly one after the other after the other.

Obviously, M. Delgado placed great faith in the presser, where I imagine Sandra Grant Marchand lead the cadres of the fourth estate through the show with great pomp and circumstance. - B-

The Mirror - Christine Redfern, 166 words. B+ for content, D for length.

Now, as I've mentioned, I saw the exhibit and I think it rocks like nobody's business, especially what I called the "wonky room" which has seven videos playing all at the same time! I only have two things that I want to point out, and one small criticism. I'd give it an A-

The two points:

A) In the press release, somebody decided to lead off with the words "In a North American first..." I'm fairly certain that they are referring to this specific exhibition, but it is left rather vague as to what exactly is "the first." And as Mr. Kentridge has had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, it sounds to me like they are touting something that isn't exactly right. Maybe it should've read "a North American exclusive..."? Especially as most of the people covering the exhibit are lapping it up unquestioningly.

B) Everybody and their mother is shouting at the top of their lungs that Mr. Kentridge is an "artist." Hence a museum retrospective, right? Why is Norman McLaren only considered a "filmmaker?" Kentridge is doing pretty much the same darn thing as McLaren. I guess it all has to do with presentation.

The small criticism:

The sounds is too loud in most of the videos, and as a consequence when you're watching one, you hear the noises from an entirely different one. This might be intentional, as in the "wonky room" six of the videos are silent, but they all have the same soundtrack from the one video that does have sound. Even if it was intentional, I don't like it. But that complaint is on the same exact level as if I were to complain about the bus being late. It ain't gonna stop me from taking it.

If you're lazy and don't want to make it down to the museum 'cuz of the weather or some such other nonsense. You can get a vague idea of what you'd be missing by checking these out [click on the "view excerpt" in the upper right corner]:
An Artist/Une artiste by François Beauchemin and Séraphin Bouchard.
Ex-Child/Ex-enfant by Jacques Drouin.
Geometry on the Move the part on line is by Norman McLaren and René Jodoin.
Notes on a Triangle by René Jodoin.
A Sufi Tale by Gayle Thomas.
Universe by Denis Gillson and Wolf Koenig.

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