Art Matters to Nuit Blanche

Although Concordia’s student-run art festival, Art Matters, doesn’t kick off until March 7, there was a brief appetizer at this year’s Nuit Blanche.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I read the event’s description: “An interdisciplinary night to celebrate interactive art.” Eager to find out, I ventured to the MainLine Theatre on St. Laurent Street to see what Concordia’s students had put together.

Stepping out of the cold, the general vibe was easygoing—recycled furniture, low key music, vintage records, old movie posters; the decor of MainLine Theatre fit well with its crowd and with the general tone of the night. Of course, this is the MainLine on any night—what I had come for was the art and the chance to see (or interact with) something I never had before.

The evening did not disappoint.

In the lobby, a night-long performance, designed by Veronica Mockler and Clémence Renaud, took place with five performers talking endlessly, alone or to people sitting near them. Laurent Viau-Lapointe, art curator of the event, explained they had set up the couches to form a pentagon shape, offering a novel experience of the “salon.”

After that, the first exhibit I hit seemed simple: one small interior decorated like a bedroom, complete with a bed, a lamp propped on a bedside table, a carpet and a poster on the wall.

As I was trying to figure out the concept behind this peculiar art project, by artist Edith Maisonneuve, I noticed the finishing touch. Someone was in bed—there was a human moving under the sheets!

As it turns out, the idea was that you could cuddle in bed with the stranger. Whether it meant to do so or not, this art piece had me reflecting on the importance of physical human contact.

It made me think of the “free hugs” project or those infamous Tokyo prostitutes who get paid to hug (yes, just hug) lonely customers in dark alleys. However, I couldn’t help but feel there was more to it—a pure and simple affection, a faceless tenderness that could melt your heart in an instant. Go ahead, call it old fashioned.

Across the room, Benita Whyte had created an installation reenacting an online ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), AKA brain-tingling, video. This controversial phenomenon is supposed to make viewers of the video experience a pleasurable tingling on their scalp, head and the back of the neck. I wasn’t feeling it much, in any sense of the word, and carried on to the next curiosity.

Sparked, I continued into the concert room. The atmosphere was light-hearted and people were chattering as a musician was getting his instruments ready.

I have to admit, the music did not really sweep me up into a higher plane or even make my brain tingle a little. Don’t mistake me, I have strong interest in indie experimental music, but I wasn’t able to make much of this psychedelic grunge experimental rock.

I learned later that the artist/musician, PRIME DYNO was actually putting on exploration of noise and sound experiments, so I wasn’t too off track, I guess. Three additional musicians performed at the event as well: Camp Fortune, MSTR SSTR and SHE DIVIDES, but I did not get the chance to see them.

Further into the night, the place started to feel a little bit crowded, buzzing with more Nuit Blanche patrons looking to get out of the cold, grab a beer and see what I had already been exploring. I squeezed into the last room for another musical set, but was unable to see much of the show because of the thick of people inside.

Still, I stayed and listened to the jazz band which boasted a really talented saxophone player. After a few minutes, I left to go grab myself a beer at the bar and hung out with some friends.

Overall, this event left me with a positive impression. The artwork was diverse and unconventional, something the bright, artsy minds of Concordia had concocted and stood to be proud of. I may not have loved all of it, but that’s art in the modern world, isn’t it?

I left the place around midnight to go see the MUTEK event at the UQAM coeur des sciences and let’s just say I really regretted leaving Art Matters and its unique atmosphere after I had walked out into the White Night.

At least I know that with the festival beginning this week there will be more creativity to experience.

Link Radio | Mar. 6, 2014 »

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