There may be a smoked meat restaurant in Brooklyn named Mile End and a café in Mile End named Brooklyn, but the kinship between the two cities runs much deeper than that. That’s why the Mile End art gallery Centre Clark decided to organize an exchange between the two towns called, simply, Montreal-Brooklyn…
Montreal-Brooklyn is happening in November in Montreal and then in January in Brooklyn, the event uniting eight art institutions in each city and a total of 40 artists, seeks to highlight both similarities and contrasts between the two places’ art scenes by, on the one hand, bringing New York artists to galleries throughout our city and, on the other, engaging Montreal artists on the subject of Brooklyn. Here are three must-sees to get you started.
1) At Centre Clark: Here at the project’s HQ, the curators chose to contrast two pairs of artists: Julie Favreau (from Montreal) and Patrick Martinez (from Brooklyn) in the gallery’s big room, and Mathieu Beauséjour (Montreal) and Steven Brower (Brooklyn) in the smaller one. They’re really trippy pairings – Favreau and Martinez both work with the symbolism and narrative potential of everyday objects, Favreau in video form and Brower by building ever-growing plastic straw structures – his own version of Meccano. Brower and Beauséjour make social commentary in their respective installations; Brower’s contribution consists of a sealed hatch that blocks the entrance to the room unless the viewer follows very specific instructions.
Once inside, Beauséjour’s video Don’t Worry Darling, There Will Be More Riots in the Spring depicts a white-haired man in a suit attempting to make a political speech but instead gagging on an egg. Referring to the Maple Spring, the work features eggs in a major way, inspiring thoughts of walking on eggshells, or, conversely, of rebirth – the rebirth of a nation? One can only hope.
2) At the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal: The MACM organized two exhibitions within the Montreal-Brooklyn project: one is a solo exhibition of video works by New York artist Janet Biggs, which feature people with extreme jobs in extreme parts of the world – an ice spelunker, an arctic explorer, a coal miner and a sulphur miner – and make exotic what, to the subjects, is the mundane.
The other exhibition features a couple of videos by Montreal artists Aude Moreau featuring New York. A kind of love letter to the Big Apple skyline, Moreau’s slow and poetic work titled Reconstruction makes the familiar skyscrapers seem alien through the use of weird time-lapse and space morphing effects. It lends a whole new look on the city, from Battery Park to Ground Zero, that oddly has the effect of making it look as if it were made out of cardboard while simultaneously making it even more majestic than it is in person.
3) At Articule: For their contribution, titled Territorial Re-marks, Mile End gallery Articule selected artists from both cities whose work deals with the idea of territory: of the mind, of the body, of societies, of wilderness. The four artists united are Jérôme Havre and Michelle Lacombe from Montreal, and Emily Roz and Patricia Smith from Brooklyn. There’s a great interplay between the amazing wall-art left over from a performance by Lacombe, the utopian urban planning of Smith and the heavily symbolic sculpture by Havre. Roz gets special mention for her paintings because I’ve got a total thing for wilderness, and the way she paints ironic territories where beastly beasts roar and maim in chintzy floral environments more befitting of your grandma’s sofa than of the jungle drives me, well, wild!
Montreal-Brooklyn, Various locations in Montreal until November 17, 2012