Explore the city’s best art this summer

Image via Wikipedia

Musée d’art Contemporain

The Musée d’art contemporain is actually Montreal’s ideal summer venue for a variety of reasons. Truth be told, we all know that our idea of our summer outings does not include being cooped up indoors. To remedy this instinctive need for vitamin D that spreads amongst Montrealers the second that our temperature hits 10 degrees, the museum is located in the ideal district for downtown strollers. In the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, right next to the venue for major summer events like the Jazz Festival, the MAC becomes an ideal solution for Montreal’s temperamental heat waves.

It also offers a variety of late night conferences or workshops, which make it the place to be before hitting a bar or a restaurant with friends. Often filled with controversial artistic material that will render dinner conversation all the more interesting, the MAC is definitely a great stop to hit up with company. The museum’s current exhibition, Laurent Grasso: Uraniborg, which runs till the end of April, is a sculptural installation for the most part, playing on interactivity in the arts as one of its key concepts.

The MAC is located at 185 Ste-Catherine St. W. Open Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is $8 for students.

-Ariana Trigueros-Corbo

The Canadian Centre for Architecture

A lot of people go to the CCA for the comprehensive research archives, educational seminars, and world-class exhibits; I like to go in the summer because it’s air conditioned and allows me to surround myself with beautiful model buildings. Founded in 1979, the CCA houses continually changing collections of plans, photographs and other architectural artifacts, dating all the way back to the renaissance.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture. Image via Flickr

You don’t have to be an expert in the field. The masterfully curated galleries feature notes that a layman can understand. Additionally, the integration of other disciples such as design history, sociology as well as community development makes for an engaging experience. If by the end of the tour your curiosity is piqued by the collections, head over to the fantastic bookstore that holds literature to meet all your architectural needs.

The CCA building itself is a Montreal landmark. Designed by Montrealer Peter Rose, the aesthetically modern grey limestone structure is a sight to behold behind its vast green lawn if you stand on the south side of René-Lévesque Blvd. Turn your head to the other side of the street and you can see and enter an open air museum: a public urban garden of sculptural heaven.

The Canadian Centre for Architecture is located at 1920 Baile St. Free admission for students. It is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m..

-Roa Abdel-Gawad

George-Étienne Cartier Monument

Canadian summer is the shortest time of year, so it’s important to soak up every minute of the precious sun and warmth. My favourite place to do that and enjoy art at the same time is under the watchful, beautifully sculpted figures of the George-Étienne Cartier monument in blissful Mount Royal Park. The statue itself provides shade and places to sit but you can also sit on the grassy knolls that surround it. It’s free and it’s beautiful and it’s also a huge part of the Montreal scenery. Unfortunately it’s right next to a busy road, but that also means its easy to get to.

The monument is located at the corner of Parc St. and Rachel St.

-Amanda L. Shore


Welcome to the freak show

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

Beyond the walls of Montreal’s prestigious Museum of Fine Arts there is another art scene that lives in small, obsolete areas of the city. Spread out across the Mile End and the Plateau are gallery spaces hidden in random, industrialized buildings, waiting to be discovered and explored. Such is the case of Diagonale, a gallery located on Gaspé Ave., and which is currently harbouring Monstrosities, yet another artistic endeavour showcasing the work of Concordia students.

Monstrosities consists of a selection of works by undergraduate students completing their major in fibre and material practices, one of the lesser known studio programs in the fine arts department at Concordia. As the exhibit’s descriptor so quaintly puts it, “the artists deal with notions that tie textile and the body together, exploring the relationship that exists between the two and how they contrast and complement each other.” The result is a combination that will provoke both nausea and utter astonishment.

Body Of Consent, one of the easiest pieces to spot upon walking into the exhibit, is the work of artist Véronique Tremblay. What at first will earnestly remind viewers of a set of genitalia disembodied in limp pieces, is actually meticulously thought out. As audiences approach the piece they realize that on this pink, shiny fabric, the author has printed thousands of words that could typically be related to sexual encounters, be they one night stands or full-on relationships. Words linger on textile, reminding viewers of the consequences and weight that come with this burlesque illustration of these fundamental body parts.

The most impressive and notoriously nauseating piece in the exhibit is, without a doubt, Untitled by Cardy Lai. Using what appears to be strands of thick woollen string drenched in coffee, the artist realistically makes viewers want to gag by creating an accurate depiction of fecal matter. Although some question the artistic value of such a piece, it does play a more traditional artistic role phenomenally well: it effectively recreates reality. In fact, the depiction is so well executed that viewers will squirm, cringe and even turn away if they are the more sensitive type. Stomachs will certainly churn as audiences will have no trouble imagining the texture and stench to accompany this piece.

Other works also stand out in the exhibit, though less scandalously. Stephanie E.M. Coleman’s Maladjusted, an impressive piece of lingerie, plays with transparency and symbolism. As for Mask: Bestialiska, by Benita Whyte, this last piece is a combination of sculptural endeavours and video presentation. The piece has this particularly monstrous touch to it, as the video reveals a subject slowly and meticulously removing a mask in a movement to reveal her face.

Notions of freedom and liberty are perhaps unintentionally evoked by the gallery’s setup, as the shadows on the wall remind us of birds flying off into the horizon.

There is some criticism to be had in regards to the curatorial style of the exhibit. Considering the symbolic value of their work it would have been nice if the artists had provided some sort of descriptor to further enlighten their audience on the creative process that accompanied their work. This is because with understanding comes fascination. After all, it’s a fundamental rule of human nature: horrify us and we simply won’t know how to look away.

Monstrosities will be running until March 23 at Diagonale Centre d’arts, 5455 Gaspé Ave. local 203. Admission is free and the gallery is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.


Come underground and play

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

No two people see the same New York City, San Francisco, Paris or Las Vegas. Some will remember the skyline, with its endless skyscrapers, carving out a clouded sky. Others will prefer the museums, with that breathtaking piece of artwork they thought they’d never see. These cities — much like our own — are playgrounds, where individuals are left to gather fragmented memories and impressions.

Montreal, for instance, is a city with a remarkable use of public space. It can be said that we are, above all, a showcasing city. The very existence of these spaces, crowded with artistic installments and festivals at all times of year, is constantly inviting people, either citizens or tourists, into discovering our city.

An excellent example of our city’s showcasing endeavors is this year’s returning edition of Art Souterrain, which will be running from March 2 until March 17. This artistic event is put together by an organization of the same name, which was founded in 2009. The Art Souterrain organization’s mission is to make contemporary art more accessible to all and to give it a chance to be appreciated as a whole.

Art Souterrain, in 2013, is the fifth edition of this impressive event, as this year’s circuit spans over seven kilometers. Artists’ creations always focus on one curated theme in order to create a cohesive circuit for people to explore. This year’s theme is the labyrinth: “a sinuous plan, provided or not of crossings, dead ends and false tracks, intended to slow down or get lost someone who tries to walk through it,” as it is eloquently explained on their website. They are, however, quick to underline the symbolic sense of the theme as well; the labyrinth also references the understanding between the spectator and the artist and how the former will lead audiences through a series of movements and ideas to a new vision or perspective.

For people interested in completing the circuit as a whole, the downtown Montreal area has been divided into eight zones. They all host a respective amount of artists, based on whatever space is available. This includes “unofficially” parts of the STM, as well as more official venues such as Palais des Congrès.

As an organization, Art Souterrain has the more “local” goal of encouraging Montreal to renew its stance on visual arts. The same way it has actively decided to advocate its importance in the music world, be it on the local or the international scene, Art Souterrain would like Montreal to take an active role in promoting contemporary visual arts. What visitors of the event will quickly come to understand is that Art Souterrain wants to create a sense of pride and appreciation for the visual arts, that has been but an undertone in the city until now.

This major artistic event also fosters the notion of ‘guest city’. Essentially, the organization partners with another major city from around the world in order to invite some of that city’s newer or more prominent contemporary artists to come and exhibit their work. This year’s guests were from Barcelona, and have been greatly influenced by a combination of both Catalan and Spanish artistic techniques and themes.

Art Souterrain is an invitation for Montrealers to take the time to enjoy a spectacle. After all, part of the city has essentially been temporarily revamped to take your breath away. Why not go take a walk and let it surprise you?

Art Souterrain will be taking place across the downtown Montreal underground March 2-17. There are no admission fees related to this event. For a detailed map of the circuit and for more information visit


Exploring the identity paradox

Roulotte by Mika Goodfriend from his installment Snowbirds at the FOFA Gallery

Art is a dialogue between the artist and the spectator. Artists are storytellers, forever intent on the ritual of showcasing their unique vision, of expressing their understanding of complex themes and issues. At times, a piece will represent a part of an artist’s story, a shard of who they are. Other times, artists will take a step back and delve into their observations of the world and all that surrounds them. Thus, unsurprisingly, artists may often take completely opposite paths to expose their views and spur our imaginations.

The FOFA Gallery’s most recent installments, Snowbirds and Falling Through a Mirror, are both intent on exploring the theme of identity, delving into what provides us with a sense of belonging as individuals. That being said, the artists, Mika Goodfriend, Tammy Salzl and Emily Jan, could not have more diametrically opposed approaches when it comes to exploring this theme in particular.

Snowbirds, the portion of the installments that belongs to Goodfriend, gives the impression of wanting to provoke some sort of reaction amongst its viewers. Unveiling a sort of stagnant truth about Quebec’s “Snowbird generation”, viewers are left to deal with this photographic instance of truth, often fighting back defensive sentiments in a spot of cultural vulnerability.

Goodfriend was just awarded prizes in the BMO 1st Art! Invitational Student Art Competition, for two of the pieces in his photography series, Benoit et Suzanne and Reynald et Marylda. Snowbirds, he explains, was made to take an anthropological view on the immigration (or rather the export) of Quebec culture.

The photography truly has a “social documentary approach to it,” as the gallery descriptor so eloquently puts it. Shot entirely in an RV trailer park in Breezy Hill, Florida, the snapshots meticulously study the habits of what Goodfriend considers a generation that should be treated as an “endangered species,” underlining the fact that these retirees are the last of Quebec’s residents to immigrate “en masse.”

The second part of the exhibit, put on by the FOFA Gallery, is a joint venture between Jan and Salzl, who have formed a collective for the occasion. Combining their artistic mediums of choice, the artists showcase both painting and sculpture in one given space. The collaboration is titled Falling Through The Mirror and, coincidently, will remind its spectators, one more than one occasion, of a horror-filled version of Alice In Wonderland.

Salzl, the painter portion of the duo, has completed a master’s in Fine Arts at Concordia, specializing in painting and drawing. Her portion of Falling Through a Mirror has a mythological feel to it, combining the role of humans and animals in a way that is reminiscent of fairy tales. The result is an eerie but captivating series of portraits that will leave the weaker of heart with goosebumps. Much like Goodfriend, Salzl deals with the concept of identity: as she puts it in her artist’s profile, she is illustrating “true parables from a fairy tale book about a society distorted and chaotic.”

As for Jan, her sculptures are breathtakingly horrific, in fascinating sense. Selkie, the main piece she is showcasing, is a seal-like looking carcass that is realistically strewn across the gallery’s main portion of space. With the FOFA Gallery plunged in darkness, lit up only by a few selective spotlights to showcase the work of the collective, Jan’s work takes on a mythic feel. Viewers will easily be reminded of those dark fairy tales told by creators like the Brothers Grimm, and how close to reality these stories always seem to be. Jan’s work is the meeting place for fiction and reality, a place where we find ourselves pushing the limits of our comprehensive imagination through art.

Falling Through The Mirror and Snowbirds will be on display at the FOFA Gallery (main floor of the EV building) until April 4. Admission is free of charge. For additional information, visit


Potential criminal will continue to make ends meet

Image via Flickr

Politics is a tricky game when it comes to strategic alliances. Everyone has dirty secrets, just waiting to be uncovered, the kind that can turn the ideal candidate into a political party’s worst nightmare. Politicians are like time bombs: they are waiting to explode with erratic behaviour, the kind that can either unveil their full potential or destroy it completely.

During the 2008 elections, Patrick Brazeau was Stephen Harper’s secret weapon. The Liberals were in the midst of trying to pass the Kelowna Accord, an attempt at tentatively making peace between the federal government and the aboriginal communities. In an article published in The National Post on Feb. 13, journalist Ira Basen underlined that, in the midst of the 2008 electoral fever, the soon-to-be outgoing Liberal Party had argued that only they could maintain the momentum necessary to push through with the Kelowna Accord.

At the time, by getting Brazeau on his side, Stephen Harper had found a way for the Conservatives to say that they were equally concerned for their voters, just in a different way. In other words, Brazeau was the key to Harper seeking out the swing vote in aboriginals.

Now, with his golden boy Senator being charged with both assault and sexual assault, our Prime Minister is probably secretly kicking himself. Upon hearing about the allegations, Senator Brazeau was immediately removed from the Conservative caucus. Brazeau now sits as an independent, at the back of the Senate.

Despite this, Brazeau is not truly being left to fend for himself: despite having been dismissed for his actions, the Senator will still be entitled to the $132,000 annual salary that he receives as a member of the Senate. This is exactly the kind of incident that has had the Canadian electorate questioning the pertinence of the political body that is the Senate altogether.

The number of scandals related to fraudulent expense reports for this political body is ever increasing and, to parallel recent political activity in Quebec, the more we dig, the more we uncover ugly truths.

In light of this, it only seems legitimate that taxpayers would want some sort revision made in order to establish whether we actually need a Canadian Senate. After all, if it’s going to cost $90 million to maintain annually, it better be worth every penny.

Brazeau’s case underlines the point that although we are definitely functioning in the confines of a democratic parliamentary system, perhaps we should revisit the idea of our “checks and balances” system. After all, we, responsible Canadian voters, elect the Prime Minister and, in turn, he appoints the Senators as needed. Is that constitutional to begin with? Reworking this procedure to include some sort validation system would require amending the Constitution and, necessarily, some sort of Canadian consensus on behalf of most provinces on an array of “touchy” topics. This can only make voters wonder what kind of major scandal will have to be uncovered for us to consider “updating” the Canadian political machine, once and for all.


Mulcair caught between a rock and a French place

Image via Flickr

Political greatness, be it in Canada or anywhere else, is not something that’s easily achievable. It requires a mix of intention and charisma, the kind of persona that will make you a memorable figure.

Ask Thomas Mulcair: he’s clearly striving to establish himself, occupying his position as the predictable yet precarious choice of leader to follow in Jack Layton’s footsteps as the head of the New Democratic Party. Mulcair has been left to contend with the delicate balance that now exists in the party that took Quebec by storm during the 2011 federal elections.

This past week he’s also been extremely “media friendly.”

For what it’s worth, having the spotlight shone on him was somewhat inevitable: he is leading a party that’s between a rock and a hard place. On one hand he finds himself defending the Quebecers that helped put him in office and his patria, taking their side with understanding, attempting to underline their uniqueness. On the other hand he’s also contending with the rest of Canada, attempting to secure his party’s position as the official opposition in the face of Stephen Harper’s Conservative party.

As Thomas Walkom underlined in his column on the topic in The Toronto Star, the NDP’s stance on Quebec has been “friendlier” since 2005, when Mr. Layton decided to take a position against the Clarity Act. This act essentially stipulates that, in the case of any referendum held inside Quebec on the topic of sovereignty, the House of Commons has the right to decide whether the question that is being asked is deemed “clear enough.” It also warrants that it has the right to consider whether or not the result of such a referendum represents the vote of a “clear majority.”

Needless to say, the Clarity Act is not very popular amongst separatist Quebecers, and federal politicians have done their best not to remind us of its existence.

So this week, when Mr. Mulcair brought the subject up (with Marois abroad in Scotland), there was some notable controversy. Why not just let it be? After all, if it wants to maintain its positions, the NDP must strive to become “Canada friendly,” appealing to that considerable portion of Canadian voters that believe that Quebec should not be granted any preferential political visibility or treatment. In fact, in an editorial published by Conrad Black in the Jan. 26 edition of the National Post, Mulcair was framed as promoting an “odious species of federalism,” which encourages a vision of a fragmented Canada. In reality, the leader of the New Democrats is simply looking out for his electorate, which is exactly what a politician should be doing.

The bottom line, it seems, is that Canada will forever be a land of compromise so long as Quebec is part of it. Normally, the leader of the opposition would be expected to just deal with it. The optimist in us, however, secretly hopes that Mulcair will take the opportunity to stray from the path, supporting the people who elected him and disregarding the notion of politicians being pleasers. After all, he does have the home turf advantage, be it if for a short while. So why not use it to make himself memorable?


A comedy that will leave you thinking

Press photo for You Can’t Take It With You

Despite the fact that You Can’t Take It With You is set in 1936, the production put together by this batch of third year students from Dawson’s theatre program still manages to strike a very modern chord with its audience.

The play, which was written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama at the time of its release, revolves around the story of Ms. Alice Sycamore’s amorous endeavors. When the play starts out, Alice is being called upon by a fine gentleman, Mr. Anthony Kirby, the vice-president of the prestigious firm where she is currently working. Despite being overjoyed by this prospect, Alice can’t help but voice one major concern: how will her beau, whose family affairs have everything to do with Wall Street, contend with the likes of her family’s eccentricity.

The Sycamores of Manhattan are, to say the least, unconventional for their time and the audience will know it right off the bat. A fascination for fireworks, an outspoken playwright, a forlorn dancer: this eccentric family is a puzzle of characters with each one more comical than the next. The Kirbys are parodied as bland, conservative characters which serve the purpose of reminding us of the need for passion in our everyday lives.

A series of unfortunate events has the Kirbys showing up early for dinner and things are thrown, quite literally, into chaos. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.

The play presents audiences with themes and questions which are still very relevant today: What do we prioritize looking to the future? Do we opt for the job that will make us happy, or simply the one that will most likely bring us success?

The cast of the play is made up of young talented actors, lead by Julia Borsellino in the role of Alice. Zachary Guttman also deserves a particular shout-out, playing the vastly entertaining patriarch of the Sycamore clan.

The costumes were well-done in that they helped make the remarkably young crowd of actors seem quite a few decades older than they actually are. This is a considerable challenge considering that half of the characters range from 50 years and older. The choice of music, a jazzy, swing-like soundtrack that lingers in the background, also helped create a dreamy atmosphere.

There was an unmistakable enthusiasm present throughout the production. Cheers to a production that leaves spectators with both food for thought and a heartwarming sense of being at home.

You Can’t Take It With You runs Jan. 31 – 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.



Tequila Sunrise is one of a kind

Tequila Sunrise / © Amel Chamandy

The brand new photographic piece, Tequila Sunrise, by artist Amel Chamandy has just arrived at Galerie NuEdge. A power woman of the Montreal art scene, Chamandy has chosen a gallery that is the epitome of her artistic beliefs. Charmandy has enumerated that she believes that contemporary art offers a refreshing flexibility in terms of injecting creativity into an artist’s work. NuEdge showcases and promotes contemporary art and up-and-coming artists, both from Montreal and abroad.

Ironically, the actual gallery space may catch visitors by surprise, considering that NuEdge focuses on artwork that is fairly avant-garde, the space allotted to showcasing it is fairly linear and traditional. This contrasts the subject matter quite vividly.

Charmandy’s medium of choice is mainly photography, blended with contemporary digital editing techniques. The catalogue to her collection bears the title Scene Scape: Through The Artist’s Eyes and perfectly describes her line of work. The catalogue is also available on NuEdge’s website (although it does not yet include Tequila Sunrise) and an important portion of her work is permanently on display at the gallery. Every piece in the catalogue is an attempt on her behalf to welcome her observers to see the world as she does and where she also welcomes them to be amazed.

In an interview with The Montreal Review in Feb. 2010, she mentioned that she sometimes shifts to monochrome to “awaken” her audience: you can see this in some the stills from her earlier work, such as the “collage” style photography of Empty Space, which she showcased in 2008.

Tequila Sunrise is a piece that contrasts yet fits the rest of Chamandy’s work — it’s a very vivid print, taken on a deserted beach, moments before the sun rises and reaches it full potential. In the midst of a cold Montreal winter, the piece seems almost nostalgic, with its tones of purples, yellows and reds, giving off an unusual neon vibe.

On the topic of contemporary art, Chamandy explains that “[it] offers the greatest latitude in terms of flexibility in the creative expression. It is as field of creation that is bound only by the mind’s imagination and without boundaries.” Audiences will surely be reminded of this as they observe the stillness present in Tequila Sunrise.

Tequila Sunrise can be viewed at Galerie NuEdge, 1480 Sherbrooke W. There is currently no end date to the exhibit.


ARTiculate: How do you measure art?

Recently, soaring prices on the art market at a variety of auctions (particularly in the United States) have begged the question: should art really be worth this much? In his book, The Value Of Art, which was published earlier in 2012, author Michael Findlay points out that there are many things that can influence the value of a particular work of art. Provenance, condition, authenticity, exposure and quality are the basic parameters that he denotes.

Thoughts on the matter can go either way. On the one hand, it seems understandable that the concept of the sentimental value that we attribute to our work as the ‘creators’ be a source of influence in the value we attribute to it and that value will therefore be reflected in its monetary worth. It’s the artist’s prerogative to believe that what he has created is worth some kind of recognition and said recognition is often expressed in the financial appraisal of his or her work.

On the other hand, one must also understand that engaging in the ridiculously high market pricing that is currently in place necessarily means restricting the accessibility of art to the elite. For all art aficionados out there, consider this: how many times have you been to visit a gallery and felt snubbed, disregarded for your lack of knowledge on a given subject matter?

After all, initially, art is made to seek out an emotion in it’s audiences, to provoke something within them, to stimulate people and make them think. It is made for what, in French, we would call ‘le grand publique’, meaning that it is meant to be appreciated on a variety of levels, gaining diversity for the variety of understandings it can provoke in people.

So these pieces, worth millions and sold only to exclusive clientele, in the midst of these prestige-filled auctions—are they truly benefiting the art world? As Mr. Findlay mentions it in his book, some people will say that buying art is not business; it’s an art itself. Scouting out artists with potential, judging the value of their pieces, getting them sufficient exposure: this market is not an easy one. Then that brings us to another question: what about the others? The ones who don’t get scouted? And don’t get enough exposure? Who is to say that the artist in the tiny, debutante gallery is any less valuable than the contemporary artist that has just sold for thousands of dollars in front of our very eyes? It seems unfair that timing and connections would price your work before any kind of appreciation can.

The bottom line goes as follows. Art will always be worth more to the person that created it; there is a dedication that inherently accompanies their spurs of creativity that ensures this. It is therefore difficult to be against the idea, per se, of an art market based on capitalist principles. However, for what it’s worth, it is not ludicrous to consider that when the price of a piece of art reaches a limit that would require most of us to mortgage a house twice, it may be time to revisit the system in place.


Moves by Montreal

Bouge d’ici / Press photo

In case you weren’t aware, January in Montreal signals the launch of the upcoming theatre season, in all of its glory, as well as an impressive amount of performing arts festivals. On deck this week is Bouge d’ici, a local contemporary dance festival that is being hosted at MainLine Theatre from Jan. 11 to Jan. 19.

Amy Blackmore, the artistic director of the festival, an ex-Concordia student and one of the founders of the festival, explained that back in 2008, while she was still a dance student at the university, she was frustrated with the lack of opportunities being offered to students to showcase their work. As a result, she and eight of her choreographer friends set out to make opportunities of their own.

“A lot of us, when we started the festival, were being told we couldn’t be accepted. That’s when we decided to make a path for ourselves, to take our fate into our own hands.”

The first edition of the festival was held at Ctrl Lab, the tiny (yet infamous, considering how many Montreal artists have débuted there) gallery space on St-Laurent St. that closed down last year. That first year there was barely enough seating space for 35 people and it was a Concordia-centric event. Three years later, Bouge d’ici is on to its fourth edition and is welcoming participants from a variety of institutions, such as UQÀM, École supérieure de ballet du Québec and Tangente.

The choice of venue is not a coincidence. Blackmore explains that they were looking for a venue that wouldn’t be so “institutional-like,” a more relaxed atmosphere than the one that traditionally accompanies the kind of dance show that you might see at Place des Arts, for example. “We want people to come and enjoy a show that’s affordable. Come to MainLine, have a beer, relax and just have a good time,” said Blackmore.

Bouge d’ici’s most popular show is Common Space and it’s the very core of the festival. The premise of the show is to pair together mentor choreographers and dancers, rendering the festival not only an opportunity to showcase potential, but also an opportunity to grow and learn. This year’s edition will showcase 11 choreographers, with 10 minutes allocated to each one’s performance. Last year Common Space sold out at all four showings. They’ve decided to add a fifth show this year and in doing so, they hope to increase their turn out.

Bouge d’ici is anchored on clear and explicit principles: accessibility, mentoring, development, facilitation and creation. Blackmore is hopeful for the future of the festival: “The people we work with move on and do great things. We hope to be the stepping stone for them.”

Choreographers participating in Common Space are: Kerwin Barrington, Laura Jayne Battcock, Audrey Bergeron, Patricia Gagnon, Marie-Andrée Gelac, Michaela Gerussi, Heather Lynn Macdonald, Axelle Munezero et Martine Bruneau, Auja Ragnarsdottir, et Julie Tymchuk.

Mentors: David Albert-Toth, Amy Blackmore, Jacques Brochu, Allison Elizabeth Burns, Emily Gaultieri, holly Greco, Jody Hegel, Robin Henderson, Kelly Keenan, Lara Kramer, Tim Rodrigues, Maria Simone et Lael Stellick.
The Associate Artistic Producer responsible for Common Space is Allison Burns


Inquiring into the artistic process and its product

Photo by Megan Moore.

As the semester draws to a close, the VAV gallery at Concordia has launched its final exhibit of 2012, one which will surely encourage discussion.

Queer Partnerships, attempts to look at the different shapes human contact and creative collaboration take, while exploring and challenging the artistic conventions of masculinity, singularity and heteronormativity. To this purpose, the exhibit provides an opportunity for the audience to explore both the artistic process and its product.

The Queer Partnerships Collective is a group of students assembled by Concordia professor Erin Silver, in the context of her ART398 class, Significant “Others”: Queer Partnerships in Art & Art-Making. Silver paired the students in her class with an artist mentor from Montreal and Toronto, in order to focus attention on the possibilities of queer artistic collaborations.

Behind the scenes in this exhibit, the curatorial efforts put forth are also reflective of a desire to challenge artistic conventions. Clinton Glenn, the exhibit’s curator, is using Queer Partnerships as an experiment for his curatorial statement. Glenn explained that the point of the way he curated this exhibit was to challenge the traditional gallery approach by “destroying the narrative sequence that’s usually present in exhibits.”

He plans on scheduling a set number of interventions, affecting the setup of the exhibit and allowing him to analyze how people interact with gallery space.

Queer Partnerships is an exhibit that’s expecting a lot of exposure. Its participation in the World Aids Day this past weekend has earned it a lot of attention, both on and off campus. In light of the artists’ engagement in the queer subject matter, this exhibit is, if anything, a great example of how you can use art to advocate knowledge and opinions on given social issues. These pieces are very personal, some even including memorabilia from coming-out stories.

Overall, the exhibit has something raw to it that’s very compelling. It says a lot for just how close transparency can bring you to an artist and how it can advocate their overall message, but there’s nothing sleek or finished about it’s showcasing. You’re simply left with the impression that you are peeking into someone’s innermost thoughts, fears and advocacies, their perpetual work in progress.


Intersection of art, design and architecture

Press photo for Martin Beck’s exhibit The Particular Way In Which Things Exist.

Despite having been rendered contemporary in many respects, the artistic world of today remains, for the most part, traditional when it comes to the curating process and the showcasing of artists. Some may say that an artist does not fully play the role of the author of his work, in the sense that the curating process affects how his work is both viewed and received by his audience.

The Particular Way In Which Things Exist, the exhibit showcasing work by artist Martin Beck that launched at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery on Nov. 15, touches on this debate with gusto. It showcases 12 years of work on the artist’s behalf, underlining his single prevalent artistic style that can be seen in all of the different mediums he uses, despite their differences. Beck’s work is considered, as the exhibit quaintly coins it, “an intersection between the subject of art, design and architecture.” The prevalent focus of his artwork is an interest in communicating artistic and cultural intention and how the systems we use to do so operate.

As an artist, Beck’s approach is unique, not only because of the variety of mediums he uses as an artist, but also because of the way he utilizes the gallery or ‘commercial’ space. Beck doesn’t actually have a say on where in the gallery each installation is set up. He does, however, create installations that are made to articulate a more active presence in space than the ones thought up by other artists.

Press photo for Martin Beck’s exhibit The Particular Way In Which Things Exist.

The Particular Way In Which A Thing Exists is no exception to this rule: as visitors enter the exhibit, the first and most stunning piece is definitely Sculptures (2008), an ensemble of five stainless steel cubes sprawled out throughout the gallery space to articulate the relativity of size and direction between the exhibit space and the art work. David Everitt Howe, who published an article on Beck’s work titled Contentious Utopias: Martin Beck’s Avant-Garde Art and Design describes Sculptures as being “almost textbook examples of theatricality or of presence”. Howe pinpoints Beck’s subtle play on the use of space: these stainless blocks are “essentially, a group of large objects occupying a space, almost like people,” giving the art a presence amongst the audience.

All presentation concerns aside, the exhibit is interesting for the topics it chooses to touch upon. Direction, perspective, movement and relativity are combined with an interest in social causes and the engagement of a viewer. Beck is a minimalist and this fact is apparent in his work: clean lines, illustration and photography leave ample room for the audience’s interpretation. Were anyone to question first impressions of the exhibit, the word that would come to mind would not be ‘iconic.’ Beck’s vision is, at best, controversial and, may I even add, stimulating. He invites the intellectual to meet the artist and question the way we feed off culture from a visionary standpoint.

The Particular Way In Which A Thing Exists remains at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, 1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W. until Jan. 26. For more information, visit

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