Tuesday, May 17, 2005

You Take Away The Sun: Manif d'Art 3 "Cynismes?" in Québec

"Tu Comprend Rien"
Guy Giard

I'm in between cities these days.

I want to come back to the Québec Manif 3, which is doing a terrific job these days providing
a thoroughly pertinent event, centering on the theme
of cynicism.

There are two talks by Michel Onfray on June 2 and 4
that I wish to attend, but I'm afraid that I'll be in New York
by then.

Not all the art shown at Manif is great, but
there is consistency for about half of the stuff,
much of it relying on performance or everyday living process.

The first and foremost reason to visit is the tiny
retrospective of Ben Vautier which finishes this week
(May 20). A variety of early pieces are shown next to
a documentary of his landmark Fluxus performances.
A new graffiti and a couple new works are included
(a bed set with directions for you to make love).

This is at Maison Gabrielle-Roy, but then just look
at the map on the Manif website as all spots are within
15 minutes walk from each others.

The chilean artist Norton Maza is presenting a work worth any great Biennial
with his house made of street scraps. Called "Territory", this celebration of Bidonville aesthetic can be found at Galerie De L'Université Laval (on Charest street).

Marie-Claude Pratte is installing her "masterpiece" at the Musée National Du Québec (the only spot in Manif that will need you to call a cab). It's her version of the history of contemporary art, installed as numerous sequences of small paintings, each historical segment divided in the 6 little spooky cells of the ancient prison. It's an instant classic.

Than, don't forget to vote on this crazy project organized by Chambre Blanche, which eliminates one out of 8 local artists each week, adapting Reality TV to the reality of artists' life. They are only 4 artists left. 3 were voted off and 1 abandoned by herself. Apparently it's a lot harder then they thought. What started as a fun project ended up in a multitude of quarrels.

From there you can move to the main exhibit at Mail Centre-Ville (Façades De La Gare), where all artists, both emerging and "official", are presented in one spot.
A good portion of the art is performance-based on involves an everyday living process.

Some of my fave Quebec artists are there, but they disappointed me:

Matthieu Beauséjour: too much of the same (re-installing old stuff, and adding a video).

Michel De Broin: Squirty fun video made with water bottles. A celebration of public sex? Not as good as his work in sculpture.

BGL: this time playing road mascots, they are way off the usual complexity of their installations.

Dominique Blain: she spoils her participation by offering an old sculpture.

Here is my fave list from Manif 3:

Gwenael Bélanger: It's interesting to re-read her falling objects under the perspective of cynicism. Don't miss the video!

Patrick Bérubé: a trampoline set near its roof (you can sit on it but beware for your head if you start swinging).

Patrice Duhamel: this artist used to annoy me but his video is re-investigating the potentiality of abstraction. Great, great, great!

Aline Martineau: she's making a whole city from consumer brown paper bags. Well done.

Art Orienté Objet: the most cynical of the lot, they made a fur with dead animals found on the roads of Quebec. I was amazed realizing how many there was on my way back. They hit a strong nail.

Guy Giard: the most irreverrencious, a series of 5 video loops where the artists literally seems to laugh at the spectator's face, but it's actually quite humoristic, and totally befitting the theme.

Guylaine Coderre and Charles Guilbert: they are singing Wittgenstein aphorisms
over short animations that by moment take the aspect of William Kentridge.

Christian Messier: disgusting. Living inside a wall for 15 days is one thing, but pissing and shitting in bocals while you're there is kinda extreme. At least he is the black sheep of the exhibit, so probably best reflect the theme of the exhibit.
Santiago Sierra would adore him.

Ziad Naccahe: he is infiltrating the space with decorative flowers (a true cataloguage in style). He is probably a future Franz Ackermann. Much more pertinent than you seems at first sight.

There is a load of other stuff: bird singing through the mall, animal drawings made with pubic hair, sperm stains on fashion ads, still lives made with everyday garbage,
circular sidewalk as an hommage to prostitutes, people falling in the streets,
even Chris Lloyd of Dear Pm is there.

It's worth a ride.


Cedric Caspesyan

(I'll try link images to some of the art later..I'm in a rush...)