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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fun & Frustration at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

Howdy!

If you've been reading closely (or conversely have way too much time on your hands) you'll remember I've been extremely frustrated with the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal recently. In a nutshell, they won't accept email from me, and they are the only museum within 150 miles that won't let volunteers from Zeke's Gallery come to press conferences.

But that's not going to cloud my judgment of the art that they exhibit - it sucks! No, just kidding, I was there this morning for the press conference on the three new exhibits that are opening there on Friday (hence the long preamble) and was reminded that I should probably explain in detail when I use sarcasm, and if I am expressing disappointment go even further to explain who, what and why I am disappointed with. Because when I went up to Jean-Pierre Gauthier to ask him to autograph my catalog, he told me that he didn't like what I had written about him on this here blog. I tried (and hope that I succeeded) in explaining that my line was expressing disappointment with the people who organize the Sobey Art Award, and not him personally. I think he might have believed me, as he did very graciously sign my catalog, but I'm not entirely certain.

That all being said, it looks like a fairly killer set of shows at the museum this winter (in case you are unclear with the meaning of the word 'killer' - it is a very positive adjective). I got there sort of early in order to take advantage of the fact that no one here in Montreal really wakes up early, I was able to take in part, but not all of M. Gauthier's exhibit without anyone else treading underfoot. But I was able to take in all of Jérôme Fortin's glorious exhibit without anyone getting in my peripheral vision.

In both cases, longer reviews are in a 'soon come' situation (in case you are unclear with the expression 'soon come' - it is Jamaican slang (patois) for 'in the near future.')

Picking stuff from my notes, I was told that one of the technicians (aka Art Handlers) thinks that M. Fortin's work is all about resignation, personally I think it is the sign of a certain amount of stubbornness. M. Fortin, in his 'thank you speech' talked about it being based on film and some Japanese person who's name I wasn't able to catch. I respectfully disagree with him and think that it reminds me much more of the snow you get on your television when you are on a channel that has nothing transmitted.

Écran no 17 (détail) par Jérôme Fortin
Écran no 17 (détail), 2006, Jérôme Fortin,
Collage (cartes routières Canada, États-Unis, Mexique), 304,8 x 548,6 cm, Collection de l’artiste, Avec l’aimable permission de Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montréal, Photo : Richard-Max Tremblay


You be the judge...

I counted about 100 people in attendance, although as Marc Mayer pointed out there were lots of artists and museum staff in attendance (although he got it wrong there are actually seven exhibits at the museum, not six - Fortin, Gauthier, Ben-Nur, Recent Aquisitions, Gubash, Women with Kitchen Appliances, and Place à la magie!.

Continuing on from my notes - I made a major faux-pas when I called Milutin Gubash, 'Martin' and then continued to munch on my foot by thinking he was not living in Canada and some sort of cool eastern European artist who had just flown in to Montreal just for the conference (the brioches and croissants provided by the museum were obviously not enough to sate my appetite).

Had I known that he was living here in Montreal, I would not have written "Are all Quebecois artists short?" in my notes, as Mr. Gubash looks like he could play a mean game of basketball or volleyball if he so chose.

Props and shout outs to Marc Lanctôt for losing the 'substitut' (or interim) part of his title.

Then, I hope that there is someone at the museum who is savvy enough to have thought of taking one picture every day of each of the pieces by M. Gauthier that make marks on the walls and mirrors. I think it would be fascinating to see the progression over the course of time.

And finally, it looks like it was fortuitous timing on Claude Gosselin's part Monday, as M. Mayer mentioned something about a Montreal Triennale in 2008. I will obviously have to follow up on that a little later.

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