Abstract and Extreme Exhibitions

Two Visual Artists Take on the MAC

A Step in the Sun by Janet Biggs

This fall promises to be an exciting one for art lovers with the opening of the Pierre Dorion and Janet Biggs exhibitions at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

While both exhibits are visually appealing and thoughtful, what each of them offers is something extremely different.

“My preference is for formally spare, very minimalist works, in which the boundaries between architecture and the artwork fade away in the painting,” Dorion said.

He’s a Montreal-based artist who brings together more than 70 pieces done over the past two decades in his self-titled exhibit. He works extensively from photographs that he takes himself in galleries or on trips, the exhibit illustrating how his style and subject choices have changed throughout the years.

Mainly featured are his paintings of old architecture and plain interiors before the exhibit moves into some of his newer works which have progressed towards a sort of minimalism.

Biggs is a Brooklyn-based artist showing her pieces as part of Montreal-Brooklyn, an art event that aims to establish a cultural exchange between the two cities. Biggs is best known for her work as a video artist, photographer and as a performance artist, where she mainly focuses on geographical and physical extremities.

While her style is akin to a documentary filmmaker, her works are more of a collage.

“I’m drawn to environments that are really otherworldly and extreme,” said Biggs. “It’s not just the environment, it’s pursuing people that not only survive, but thrive in these environments.”

The MAC is featuring four of her videos in which she focuses on a different individual in each, doing their everyday job in exceptionally severe conditions.

She features a female coal miner in the Arctic, an ice spelunker, a miner that takes sulphur from volcanoes and an Arctic explorer.

“Every time I go into one of these extreme environments and point my camera it’s a political act,” said Biggs. “While I acknowledge that, for me the thing that is most important is to try to find the humanity and ultimately the poetry there.”

Janet Biggs and Pierre Dorion at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (185 Ste. Catherine W.) / October 4, 2012 to January 6, 2013