The Link’s Top Picks From Art Matters 2017
Student-Curated Festival Offers Up Variety of Thematic Shows
Last Saturday, curators and artists premiered the first of Art Matters’ eleven exhibits, kicking off the Concordia undergraduate arts festival that continues until March 31. The festival has been running since 2000.
Vernissages and shows will be taking place over the next few weeks, giving everyone a chance to check out the student-curated shows in their own time. For this year’s edition of the festival viewers will have the unique opportunity to experience performances, video and audio installations, sculptural pieces, photo series and, of course, artwork through traditional mediums like painting and drawing.
An immersive-meditative experience of photography, sculptural installations, a video work, and more culminate to form Ontology, an exhibit curated by Xan Shian. Among the many works featured in the exhibit is a dreamy room dubbed “The Garden” from multimedia artist VJ Aya Avalon. It includes pastel-coloured sculptures juxtaposed with dark, emotional photographs from Maxime Saint-Jean, with the purpose of exploring the notion of anxiety.
The inspiration behind the show comes from Shian’s personal exploration of anxiety through portraiture, but because everyone experiences it differently, she wanted to extend the theme to other artists.
“I thought it would be really interesting to see what the broad spectrum of the anxious experience can incorporate through other artists’ ways of addressing it,” she said.
“The Garden,” a sensory environmental experience, includes a guided “meditation” recording that was created with relaxation in mind. In a room separate from the rest of the exhibit, visitors can enter a small space decorated with pseudo-plant streamers made of paper and other trippy elements that they can touch and feel while listening to the recording.
“It’s going to be a little bit of an immersive experience where people can crawl in […] and just decompress,” explained Shian.
Beyond “The Garden,” visitors will be able to appreciate the soft, dreamy colour story of Hea Kim’s multi-sculpture installation, which features an arrangement of visually pleasing shelving, flowers and a rabbit composed of various materials.
“It’s a really interesting play on something that is quite aesthetically beautiful and calming and sweet and lovely, but also this sort of veneer for what isn’t talked about or what isn’t necessarily apparent on the surface,” said Shian of the piece.
Anxiety—“this sort of cataclysmic word”—glues these pieces together, explained Shian, and draws the lines between the many facets of the human experience presented in Ontology. It’s surely one not to miss, with its vernissage on March 11 at 9 p.m. at Espace Projet.
Ontology // Vernissage March 11, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. // Spans March 12 – March 21 // Espace Projet // 353 Villeray St.
Ce qu’il en reste (A Good Ending to the Exercise)
Curator Roxane Halary mixes performance and visual art for Ce qu’il en reste, a special exhibit that looks at the theme of “documentation.”
Unlike static art shows that stay the same from day one till the end, Ce qu’il en reste takes a bold step in offering its viewers a one-time performance piece that will only be presented during the March 14 vernissage at Eastern Bloc, starting at 6 p.m.
What follows are the “remnants” of said performance, according to Halary. The other performances, which will be filmed and recorded, are what will be presented during the rest of the 10-day exhibit. For instance, recorded sounds of performers using weight and movement against wood sculptures will be played.
“People from theatre, dance or visual arts will have a very different process in terms of making things happen and creating that conversation between those different works,” she said.
Halary focuses on the ephemeral aspect of performance art and uses video, sculpture, sound recording and art installations to document the movement pieces.
Ce qu’il reste // Vernissage March 14, 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. // Spans March 14 to March 24 // Eastern Bloc // 240 Clark St.
Themes of separation, fragmentation and geography are at the crux of the Islands exhibit, by means of poetry, photographs, drawings and projected images.
Its curators, Jordan Beaulieu and Zeke Best Rothfels—who are from Newfoundland and Toronto, respectively—explore the physical and abstract subject of Islands in their show, and subsequently open the floor for other artists to interpret these notions.
“We were thinking of Islands as physical places, as geography, as [being] about Montreal specifically,” Beaulieu said of their show, which will be on display at Espace Cercle Carré starting March 12. “An island is also a synonym of isolation, about a person or a culture or a community as an island.”
Ten projects and 12 artists are showcased in Islands. Maia Céleste Donnelly shares photographs from her travels hiking through Iceland and Newfoundland. Ali Hendra presents a series of poems she wrote while on an exchange in Iceland. Stéphanie Pineau showcases a double projection of two different landscapes that she recorded while she was on the bank on the edge of a river, looking across to an island.
“They kind of communicate fragmentation and separation,” explained Beaulieu, adding that the works explore the subject in their own unique way. For some, geography is considered through imagery and sound, while others compare people to Islands. Overall, the curators are hoping that viewers will reflect on their own connection to the island they inhabit—Montreal.
“It’s great when something can feel like it was made for you in a way, and creates that sense of seeing something and recognizing it,” said Beaulieu.
Islands //Finissage March 20, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. // Spans March 12 – March 21 //Espace Cercle Carré // 36 Queen St.
“It’s great when something can feel like it was made for you in a way, and creates that sense of seeing something and recognizing it.“— Jordan Beaulieu, Islands Co-curator
Your body will no longer be physical when the cityscape and nature have bled into each other beyond recognition.
• Permeation sequences
• Sub/hyper intuit
Δ End of cycle
Wire Forest is the first opportunity within Art Matters to experience electroacoustics as an integral part of an exhibit. Opened last Saturday, Wire Forest presents a glimpse of a “world, [where] technology has replaced the organic,” and the Earth is remade from its foundations, according to its Art Matters description.
The installation appears at first to be waves of discrete geo-political/socio-economic visions. But after 15 minutes, it also becomes an immersive, nigh inescapable segue into post-human emotions.
Sound art pieces interweave with each other and loop without end, arguing amongst them. The format lends itself to realizing that every experience cycles you back to a contradictory, original position from the stance you hold at the end.
All that is auditory strives to make it heard, while the plastic and graphic artworks hover in silence along the fringes of Studio XX.
Wire Forest // Vernissage March 10, 7p.m. – 10 p.m. // Spans March 4 to March 18 // Studio XX // 4001 Berri St. #201
If bowls made of human hair are more your thing, then Body Works, showing at Gham & Café until March 18, is probably for you.
“I realized that I was a lot more attracted to work that featured the body that wasn’t necessarily portraiture,” explained the show’s curator, Alyse Tunnell. Using the body as a canvas, or a medium, rather than the subject of a work is at the centre of this exhibit in which artists reclaim the body and steer away from idealistic representations of it.
“Each of the works takes a different critical perspective of looking at the body and how we relate to our bodies,” said Tunnell, an art history student.
The aforementioned hair bowls, from Dina Georgaros, extends the concept further as she uses hair from both the mother and sister. In fact, they were actually the inspiration for the rest of the show’s pieces.
A video piece from Clare Grehan, in which she sews into her hands, is another example of how the feature artists interpreted the show’s theme.
So while the sight of hair bowls or the image of someone sewing into their own hands might make some people uncomfortable, “I think that’s part of what I’m getting at,” said the curator. “This discomfort with bodies doing things they’re not supposed to […] it’s supposed to bring an awareness that we have this physicality.”
Body Works // Vernissage March 9, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. // Spans March 4 to March 18 // Gham & Dafe // 3425 Ste. Catherine St.