A City of Festivals

Art Matters Explores Art and Athleticism at Nuit Blanche

“I cultivated a weird fetish for boxing this summer,” said Zoe Koke, exhibitions coordinator for the 2012 edition of Art Matters, when asked about the theme for the long-running Concordia art festival’s upcoming event In Our Time.

“That expanded into starting to consider the differences between art audiences and sporting audiences, and what divided artistic and athletic performances.”

On Feb. 25, Art Matters is teaming up with Nuit Blanche and the Blue Cat Boxing Club for a special one-night event a week before the official festival launch March 2. The evening will be an interactive performance that builds a relationship between sports—specifically, boxing—and performance art.

“A friend of mine told me that Blue Cat Boxing had an event that merged boxing and folk music in the past,” said Koke, who organized the event along with special events coordinator Caro Loutfi and contemporary dance students and curators Linnea Gwiazda and Carolann Shea.

“I knew that we needed to revive this concept for this year’s festival,” said Koke.

In Our Time will focus on the athleticism of dance and the artistry of boxing—that is, the opposite of what is traditionally expected from each practice—through a series of sound, dance, theatre and visual performances punctuated by boxing rounds and offset by visual artwork on display.

The performances will take place between midnight and 3:00 a.m. at Blue Cat Boxing Club, in the Mile End.

“We have focused on the ways in which contemporary art can merge with community when conceptualizing this year’s festival.

“The Nuit Blanche event we have planned will hopefully have people thinking about the insularity of fine arts, the conventions of the art world and the conduct of art world audiences,” explained Koke.

“We are hoping to illuminate how the institutional constructs of the art world define the reception of art, while still embracing these constructs too—we are after all, an art school festival that centers on the ability to feature artwork in various local art spaces here in Montreal,” she continued.

“I guess ultimately, this is a questioning of art’s role in society, outside of the art world. A boxing studio as a venue, with boxing as a staged performance in the company of art performances speaks to this.”

The Nuit Blanche and Art Matters festivals—both of which kicked off in 2000—have since developed into mainstays in the Montreal art community, so a collaboration only makes sense.

“Montreal is a city of festivals. It has a transient student community and it seems to glow during these temporary and intense celebrations of local talent,” said Koke.

“Art Matters gives students the ability to experiment and gain knowledge and experience in the art world within the scope of their undergraduate education, which is incredibly unique. Nuit Blanche is a tried-and-true Montreal art staple.”

In Our Time will also serve as the launch for the 2012 Art Matters program guide, which will outline the art exhibitions, speaker series, the Art Crawl and other events.

In Our Time / Feb. 25 / Blue Cat Boxing Club (435 Beaubien St. W., 4th floor) / 12:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. / artmattersfestival.org