Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Stuff Seen - Angela Grauerholz



This was the one that left me furrowing my brow. The show itself is called Reading Room for the Working Artist, and believe it or not, it is still on at Vox (1211 Saint Laurent) until March 18. We walked in the door and ran smack dab into Jerome Delgado. As he didn't recognize me, I introduced myself to him. As he didn't recognize me, I'm confused as to how he can claim to have been here more than once - but I have been wrong before, and I will be wrong again. But enough of the gossip, and me being bitter - bitterness is bad - and lets focus on the art.

I've had a thing for Ms. Grauerholz for five years. Back in 2001 she exhibited some high resolution scans of books that had been burned when someplace were she had lived burned, they were pretty darn kick-ass. If I can still remember them 1,825 days later, they obviously made some sort of impression. This show of hers strikes me as being a variation on a theme, which when developing a career as an artist is a good thing.

Basically, she set up two tables at roughly a 45° angle to the door at Vox. There are these ridiculously clunky and awkward chairs (six per table, three on a side) that are all in front of a book. I assume that the books are one offs, and I really dislike the fact that because Vox can't get a freakin' staff member to hang out in the gallery that the suckers are tied to this desk-like object with fishing line. Heck, now that I write that line, I'm sorta tempted to go back and cut the fishing line and boost a book - if only to get Montreal on the Interpol's Art Theft list.

There's also this video playing, and then there are some big black and white photos that you see if you walk up the stairs (and one small picture that I can't remember that's off to the side of the desk-like objects). The video was overwhelming. I got the basic idea that I was supposed to belly up to the bar and then start flipping through the books, but that darn video kept interfering with the books, which were basically a collection of copies of clippings from elsewhere (if Ms. Grauerholz plans on selling any of the books, she should hire a lawyer to broker the sale so that she does not get busted for copyright infringement). The video seemed to be sorta the same, in other words a collection of video clips done by other folk.

I glommed the concept that this was an attempt at a recreation of how to catch inspiration, and it was really nicely done. But I'm not entirely certain that I like the ego involved in effectively saying "I am creative, this is how and what I do to be creative, follow my lead." If you say "turn left" to me I will, by instinct, turn right, even if it means walking into a pile of hungry crocodiles.

I don't know why Ms. Grauerholz didn't ask the Grande Bibliotheque to host the exhibit ('cuz to my mind it would have worked way better on so many more levels, and been seen by scads more folk, too) and I'm also not quite certain why the large B&W pix were there, but overall I understood that she had spent an awful lot of time figuring out the how's the what's and when's and the why's and for that she should be commended. I'm not completely convinced that I agree with what she's trying to say, but I will defend to the death her right to say it.

Basically, if I'm supposed to flip through all the books, why the uncomfortable chairs and the fishing line? If I'm supposed to follow the process (something extremely important to Canadian artists) then why the B&W photos? And most importantly and what inquiring minds are dying to know; is Ms. Grauerholz a babe?

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