Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stephane Baillargeon gets it wrong


In today's Le Devoir, there's an article about Parachute closing. His first sentence reads: 'Parachute, the most prestigious contemporary art magazine in Canada...' Unfortunately it is not true. Prestigious, loosely defined means 'esteemed: having an illustrious reputation; respected.' I assume that the definition in French is the same as in English. Calling Parachute prestigious now, is exactly like calling the Rolling Stones the most important Rock 'n' Roll band in the world today. Back in 1977 both statements might have been true, but it is 2006 now.

In his fifth paragraph he quotes Chantal Pontbriand as saying 'even Alain Simard of the Jazz Fest says that things are bad in Montreal.' What he fails to note, is that the reason things are 'bad' for M. Simard is because he completely and thorughly botched and screwed up when some people tried to hand him a Film Festival on a silver platter. If I remember correctly, last year's press release to conclude the Jazz Festival stated that 'the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal was particularly successful this year' and noted in bold that 33% of the shows sold out and that there were 2 million visitors. That doesn't sound 'bad' to me.

In his sixth paragraph he writes 'The radical decision also shows how there is no money in Montreal for contemporary art, even though it is booming elsewhere in the world.'

Wrong-O! Boy-O! Again. If Parachute is closing because of lack of government funding, how does it mean that there is no money in Montreal for contemporary art? It might mean that certain people are not willing to pay a CPM of more than $100 for an academic journal that is read by 1,200 people. If I remember correctly, the Musee d'art contemporain got more than 62,000 people to see their Brian Jungen exhibit, and more than 50,000 for Anselm Kiefer, and this is after they raised their prices by 33%. If you do good work, people will pay for it. Do not so good work, and you can't give it away for free.

And if there is no money in Montreal for contemporary art then obviously, none of these three paintings are going to sell, one, two three. And if there is no money in Montreal for contemporary art then obviously then there is no point for these five galleries to have opened in the past year or so, right? Parisian Laundry, Cru, Donald Browne, Dominique Bouffard, Anthracite Diffusion, and then there's also D'Este, SAT's new exhibition space, and Concordia's two new galleries. Obviously there is nobody who wants to invest in contemporary Quebecois art.

Again, I am very sad that Parachute is closing, but to use the occasion to further some mistruths about contemporary art in Montreal is just plain bad reporting.

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