Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Biennale de Montréal is, how can I say it...?


I figured that enough had time had passed so that I could look up what had been written about the the Biennale, and I think it can be summed up best by Ilania Abileah's web site about it. When I visited it, her site counter proudly declared that the page had been viewed 37 times. I promptly hit reload, and bumped it up to 38.

Her site is nicely done, lotsa pictures, no real commentary. Given her work I'm very happy that they she left the job to me.

I got a tad confused by this site, but then I added "2004" to my Google search, and everything became clearer - although as far as most people are concerned I'm certain that they could read this review of the 2002 biennale and would not realize that there had been significant changes in two years.

Then, the deviantArt site has some of the most pithy comments about the biennale. One of my favorites is: "montreal rocks ...come see us." Highly recommended

Then before we hit the "big boys" let me point out fictionalart's blog where they make mention of the biennale.

The Big Boys:
Montreal Mirror, Catherine Redfern, September 30 - 216 words
Hour Magazine, Isa Tousignant, September 30 - 396 words
Le Devoir, Bernard Lamarche, October 2 - 1,439 words
La Presse, Jerome Delgado, October 3 - 975 words
Voir, Nicolas Mavrikakis, October 7 - 816 words
Voir, readers (Andrée Proulx, Richard Éthier, Yves Lalonde, Chantal Valade, Karine Dupuis, and Paul Daoust) subsequent days - 1,293 words
Total= 5,135 words

Ms. Redfern repeats the gossip floating around about the biennale, but then comes to Armand Vaillancourt's defense separating him out from the other stuff happening. There's only so much that can be dealt with in such little space, but she seems to give it a thumbs up.

Ms. Tousignant takes the other side of the coin, she doesn't like it, makes no bones about it, doesn't like Armand Vaillancourt's work, makes no bones about it, and just to drive the point home it starts in the eighth paragraph of her column. [Ethics alert - in the 13th paragraph she mentions the Chris Dyer exhibit that just finished here.]

M. Lamarche does a yeoman's job of trying to give a reporter's overview of the whole kit and caboodle, his first four paragraphs deal with Claude Gosselin's difficulties, reported here as fact, not gossip. Interesting, that he would decide to lead with that bit of information. He then jumps into the art Ed Kostiner gets one paragraph. Armand Vaillancourt gets six, but I think he ends up hanging on the same side of the fence as Ms. Tousignant, his last line is: "il y a longtemps que la production de Vaillancourt, qui roule sur son fond de commerce, ne sert qu'à alimenter son propre mythe." (or in the blokespeak computer translation: "for a long time the production of Vaillancourt, which rolls on its goodwill, is only used to feed its own myth"). He then proceeds to give Ève Robidoux one paragraph, Rajak Ohanian four (!) where he complains about how M. Gosselin decided to spend his precious cash, and then ties everything up with one paragraph about Will Alsop.

If you've been keeping score, we so far have two reviewers who dislike the biennale and one who likes it. Unfortunately the negative folk have used more words.

M. Delgado seems to stradle the fence, reporting on the difficulties, flitting around from artist to artist without really saying much of significance "Sauf qu'entre les travaux superficiels (les photos d'Ed Kostiner, spectaculaires vues à vol d'oiseau)" ["Except that between surface work (photographs of Ed Kostiner, spectacular sights with flight of bird)"]. He ends his article with a hope that this is not the "swan song" for M. Gosselin.

Then finally M. Mavrikakis piles on. He starts out with a bang, stating that the biennale is poor, but there is a pun in there, as everybody knows M. Gosselin's money difficulties. He limits his reportage to two paragraphs at the end where he mentions all the artists. Before that, he whines on endlessly about previous biennales, exhibition theory, an aside about how wonderfully superlative he thinks Geneviève Cadieux's work is (in the first freakin' paragraph, does he want to bear her love child, or what?) The thing that brought a smile to my face was his line "nous avons pu voir défiler à Montréal une liste impressionnante d'artistes. Je ne les nommerai pas;" (my non-computer blokespeak translation: "we could make a very impressive list of artists. But I won't name them") Given that I previously and repeatedly pointed out his habit of name dropping, excuse me for becoming a little giddy when I read that. But then if you scroll down, I realized it was to be a short lived giddiness. He then writes this: "Je pense à Raphaëlle de Groot, Massimo Guerrera, Marie-Suzanne Désilets, Sylvie Cotton, Diane Borsato, Mathieu Beauséjour... L'Action terroriste socialement acceptable (ATSA)..." Does anybody know if there is a twelve-step program for name dropping?

Final score: Three against, one for, one fence sitter. I guess I gotta get around to see it when they aren't serving drinks and let y'all know what I think.

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