Monday, March 21, 2005

Gettin' out and seeing other people's art, this week's version


On Friday I was able to get my butt out of the gallery in order to see work by some other folk. The short version:

Barry Allikas, Les Fleurs du Mal at Sylviane Poirier - B
Tracking the Traces at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery - D
Diluvian Lure by Janet Bellotto at MdC Plateau - B+
Angélique 1734 by Guy Giard also at MdC Plateau - B-

Now for the longer version... Tracking the Traces, was extremely disapointing, despite getting an inordinate amount of press, there really wasn't an awful lot there that was interesting. Jean-Pierre Gauthier's Marqueurs d'incertitude came the closest. Over at MetroBlogging Montreal, I asked the rhetorical question as to why Nicolas Mavrikakis did not mention three of the artists taking part in the exhibit. Over here I can answer that question; it is because their work wasn't particularly good. (Standard Operating Practice dictates that when a Montreal reviewer doesn't like something they don't mention it, somehow everybody thinks this is more polite. I don't.) The one that I was really annoyed about was Martin Tetrault's part of the show. Ostensibly Tracking the Traces was done in order to "draw attention to the act of listening. It focuses on the documentation. transmission, flow and evocation of sound." Well, M. Tetrault has taken a bunch of old Beatles records that were obviously not in mint condition and pretty much destroyed the covers. He erased or ripped out all the references to John, Paul and George. Oooooh! Cool! eh? How original. When is M. Tetrault gonna stop being the pur laine version or Christian Marclay? Like Mr. Marclay is an artist worth copying. Heck, you can go over to Mingering Mike's website, and see the same thing done better.

Beyond that the only other really crappy one worth mentioning was Ian Murray's "Top Songs, the artists has recorded the first ten seconds of each of the top 100 pop songs from the 1960s to create a 17 minute medley." - link he also then added a boring black and white video of what I assume is himself playing along on drums. First off, he used some Maritime radio station's list of the top songs, which is sorta like using this blog to determine what the best art in Montreal is. Second there was no coherent rationale for the choice of songs, he pretty much just picked 10 from each year at what appeared to be random. And I can go on and on and on - if anybody is interested, I have the Top 100 songs of 1969 as chosen by WABC (the number one Top 40 Station in the world at the time) on one CD, and it does rock out like nobody's business, swing by the gallery and I'll give you a copy.

Barry Allikas on the other hand is a quite accomplished artist, and while his exhibit isn't going to be accused anytime soon of breaking new ground, it still is quite nice. There's some bafflegab and gobbledy-gook in the handout at the gallery that attempts to riff off of Baudelaire. But you don't need to read it unless you really have time to kill. His paintings most just black and red thing-ys are pretty darn imposing. It might have to do with the size of Ms. Poirier's gallery, but I prefer to think that it has more to do with the jagged lines and angularity of the paintings. You know, sorta keeping you on your toes and off balance. While not as mind blowing as an explosion from Rocky & Bullwinkle, nor as ironic as the graphic of a fist to the face in Batman, they strike me as sorta ominous versions of how Hanna Barbera might have done a bad opium trip (do opium users get bad trips?). I'm also fairly convinced that if I had read Les Fleurs du Mal back when I had an opportunity, that I would be able to write something attempting brilliance and succeeding in sophomoric humor about his choice of titles and the actual angles. But I didn't so you're gonna have to come up with them on your own.

Then over at the Maison de la Culture, Plateau there are two shows. Janet Bellotto's is quirky and fun, Guy Giard's sorta somber and intellectual. I've always been fascinated by lenticular photos, and it appears that Ms. Bellotto is as well. The collage of the smaller ones is the bestest of the lot - as everything is always shifting in front of you - instead of the larger versions where you have to walk or move you head to get the full effect. A one trick pony versus a multiplicity of ideas. I think that the video could have been put to better use, especially as it is not entirely obvious that it has sound. I just wish that I could've come up with the idea myself because I'm getting pressure from certain quarters about a trip to Italy.

Then finally, I almost missed it, but before you enter into the main exhibition room at the MdC Plateau Guy Girard has a different version of Angélique 1734 hanging in the hallway. Standard issue photos with text, riffing off of slavery in Montreal using a made up correspondence. Thought provoking and interesting, although when I was there, a little too much so for my head at that time, I'm glad I got an opportunity to see it, although I should've given it my full attention instead of concentrating on my companion.

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