Since I’m on the topic of sellable art, I should mention that I also went to see the East vs. West exhibit at Three Monkeys. I don’t think anyone has ever done a study on it, but I would venture a guess that if you own a store, putting art up on the walls and hosting exhibits is a cheap and effective way to market and promote the store. On the other hand, wall space is valuable real estate for merchandising, and if it was truly effective than there probably would be more stores that did it, right?
Anyhow, either way by presenting the show, it succeeded in getting me into a clothing store, which is no mean feat. According to the folderol that they put out on Facebook and Twitter
the show was organized with the help of the Ayden Gallery in Vancouver and some clothing company called Lifetime Collective. My guess would be that the folk at Ayden put some art in the mail, and the folk at Lifetime sent a check – but I could be wrong. The large majority of it is arranged grid-like on the back wall of the store. There are a couple of other places as well where they have managed to hang some stuff, but as it really and truly is a clothing store, the art is not quite as front and center as I would have preferred.
It’s a fairly large group of artists, thirteen to be exact, six from Vancouver and nine Montrealers (Peter Ricq was identified as being from both Montreal and Vancouver). Other than the geography, there isn’t really anything linking the art together which depending on where you sit could be a good thing or a bad thing. Bad in that anytime you try to start making links between art it is unlikely to work as well as you think, and there is a strong chance that someone like me will come along and question just about everything. Good in that it does give the viewer some kind of hook on which they can hang their hat. The geography thing does work as the hook in this case.
But since there was nothing on the tags to identify who came from where, and I didn’t really go from one end of the store to the other to double check against the list that was written by the door, I didn’t really get any sense of regional identity for any of the artists. It was much more like, “here it is, look at it.”
So I did. The quality of the work was uniformly pretty good, there wasn’t anything that really jumped out a beat me over the head with how great it was. The closest would have been the double exposure portrait by Andrew Young, either because it was centered on the back wall, it was a larger piece, because of its unusual canvas, or more likely all three.
Overall, as you might have guessed, I’m quite fond of shows like this. A sort of pop-up gallery if you will, furthering the idea that art should be an inegral part of everyone’s life. It especially helps that there wasn’t any heavy theory behind it, and that the quality of all the work was above average. I hope that the people who attended the vernissage bought some clothes as well as some art, so that more exhibits like this can be done.
If you want to take a gander at it, Three Monkeys is on the Metcalfe side of Les Cours Mont Royal right next to the fountain, and the show itself is up until the end of the month.
Description of show
Mention of NYTimes article
Late last year I was wandering around through the bowels of our fair city and was struck by the fact that Les Cours Mont Royal‘s Christmas decorations were not only made out of various things (mostly old 2 litre soda bottles) that had been recycled, but the fact that they weren’t making such a big deal out of it and trumpeting that they were super cool and the bestest because of their design choices. Super props and kudos to whomever does the displays for Les Cours Mont Royal, along with some extra points for choosing to stay anonymous.
While I normally am dead-set against most things commercial, I found this particular tree quite witty. Using the bags of the stores in Les Cours Mont Royal as “ornaments” was a great idea.
I wasn’t quite certain what to expect, but I figured despite my looking like a fish out of water, whatever happened it was unlikely to hurt, and as it was for a cause, maybe it would help my karma point score.
I wasn’t important enough to have anyone ask to take my picture, but I did manage to bumble my way through the event using mine, although I almost ran out of battery power.
As it was a fancy fundraiser, there were lots of folk dressed to the nines. Most of the early part of the evening was dedicated to wine and finger food. There was a silent auction and a live auction and I was told that the tickets cost $350/ch.
According to the program there were 33 outfits, although I was unable to keep track of everything as the models sashayed by. I also was quite struck by how all the models seemed to have the same expression on their face and how they appeared angry or unhappy.
Before I go to another fashion show, I’m going to have to learn what tulle, ponte di roma, lurex, dupioni and a lot of other technical terms mean. It also seems that the fashion industry and the art world aren’t exactly in sync when it comes to definitions of colors.
The show stopper.
But really what caught my eye were the shoes that were worn to the event. I’m fairly certain that more than one person thought I had a foot fetish, but I digress.
So how about we call this something more like Long Stringy Dress Made out of Colorful Wires? Or Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing, or something like that? Instead of showing off a blissful ignorance of technology and technological terms.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, we can take a closer look at the Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing.
Overall I gotta give Ms. Turgeon some props. Despite not knowing how to name her dresses, the Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing quite possibly best exemplifies the ideas and concepts behind Outfits from a New Era at the Biosphere. In that none of the materials used were new, and that what she uses as textiles truly has been salvaged from the scrap heap.
Personally I would have ditched the actual mice (mouses?) all they’re going to do is bruise someone’s ankles, and the biegeness of them definitely detracts from the extremely colorful nature of the rest of the dress. Maybe, perhaps, possibly they could have been used as ear flaps for the headgear. It wolod have also been nice to see what it looked like if all the wires were grouped together by color.
I’m not certain that it would have been “better.” But I still would like to be able to compare. I have a feeling that the sense of the material (ie making people more aware that it was made out of wires) would have come through slightly stronger. But then again, what do I know about making a Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing?
Sort of flapper inspired (I’m not entirely certain that it would go with the Charlestea dress by By Maude Lapierre) for the next time she makes one, she should try to spell out some messages in the hat.
Now we’re coming into the homestretch. Caustic Swimsuit and a dress called Hit Parade. The Caustic Swimsuit is particularly intriguing, in that I am not entirely certain that there is anyone who could swim while wearing a 240 lb. swimsuit. Heck, even lying around the pool would be a chore! OK, maybe Iris Kyle could wear it without collapsing. But nonetheless, there’s something kinda cool in a bling-bling way about 1,200 batteries glued together.
But who has the sort of twisted mind to make a swimsuit that would drown you if you wore it into the water? Although perhaps Jennifer Bergeron was also trying to make some sort of statement on the state of the water in and around Montreal? You know, in a roundabout sort of way kind of tell you that the water is polluted.
And while you’re not going to get electrocuted from wearing a swimsuit made out of dead 1.5 volt batteries, putting them in water probably will make them corrode quicker and end up releasing some rather unsavory chemicals (although it should be noted it depends entirely on the type of battery. Alkaline batteries leak potassium hydroxide, while zinc–carbon batteries leak zinc oxide) it also should be noted that while potassium hydroxide is caustic, zinc oxide is not (or at least that’s what I think).
Like the Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing, the Caustic Swimsuit is truly made out of post-consumer waste and lives up to the ideals and concepts of Outfits from a New Era. Which is all very nice, but it still is 240 lbs.!
The last of the 16 dresses is Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard. Made from video tape, audio tape, slides and 35 mm film it is another pretty good example of post consumer waste being put to better use than landfill.
Initially, because I wasn’t looking too closely, when I read that it was called Hit Parade i mistakenly thought that it had been made from LPs that had been melted down. But no siree bob! I was thoroughly and completely wrong. Made me realize that I needed to pay closer attention at all times.
This dress not only works as an effective example of what Outfits from a New Era is trying to prove, but also looks like it would actually work as something that could be worn, and worn comfortably, to the discotheque. Which is probably why Ms. Bédard started up Audiofil, a company to make things using old cassette tapes as the thread for the fabric. If she ever gets to the point where she makes another one, I would strongly suggest copping some pattern from the 1980s, as that was the height of cassette culture, and social self-reference would just make everybody’s head spin. In a good way.
As you might have expected after reading all five posts, I was quite charmed by Outfits from a New Era. It seemed that this past summer was a summer of fashion. Beyond the Jean-Paul Gautier exhibit, which I very deliberately did not write about, there was the Arlette Vermeiren Zucoli exhibit and the Les Ballets Russes de Diaghilev exhibit all of which added up to more costumes, fashion and fabric than I had seen in a very long time.
But not only did I like most of the dresses in Outfits from a New Era but the rationale for making them was also nice, and then the thing that really made my heart go “pitter patter” over the show was since it was at the Biosphere there was hardly anyone there, which while not that great for the Biosphere was great for me, as I can’t stand crowded exhibits where you have to crane your neck to see things or wait patently in line while everyone else ahead of you takes a gander. Although they could have easily saved some cash by ditching the whole vedette thing. I don’t think getting autographed ephemera aids in any way the pedagogic nature of the show, although if I can remind you, I have been wrong before, and I will be wrong again.
I would suggest heading over during the upcoming holidays, as it will guarantee that you don’t run into any school trips. The exhibit itself is on display until December 2012, so if you miss the Christmas season, there’s spring break, Easter, and next summer, ie plenty of time to catch it. And then I seem to remember someone telling me that it was going to tour the country.
For Tags: Names of all the designers, names of all the dresses, Biosphere, Outfits from a New Era, Objets Non Enfouis all the French translation
What would you expect from someone who makes stuffed toys for a living? Cute and lighthearted, I’d really like to kn ow what was used to make the skirt hold its shape. A Hoop skirt? Petticoats? Crinoline? Or something else. The tag says that only 4 sweaters, 7 pairs of jeans and 100 buttons were used to make this dress. But I suspect that there were some other things involved as well.
It actually looks like it could be worn, but I’m not 100% convinced I would be able to survive the constant barrage of cuteness. Maybe if I was partial to dressing up for Halloween, I’d be more open to a dress that had a hood with ears and some sort of bear-like soccer ball protruding from the crotch.
The Outfits from a New Era exhibition were designed to highlight “cast-offs from our society in a whole new light” and while the vast majority of them were made from waste products, four appeared to be made from new material. Of the four, the two following were notable examples.
Another fantasy dress, another material list that isn’t quite complete. That bodice is not made of plywood (unless that’s the thinnest plywood ever – or perhaps it should be the veneer used to make plywood). Although I kind of like the concept of living in your dress. Once you glom onto the idea behind this dress there isn’t an awful lot of depth to it. But I bet you that it is well insulated (yuck, yuck, yuck!)
Of all the dresses in the exhibit, I would guess that this one is the most structurally sound. But probably the most difficult to modify if you gained a couple of pounds. Although I think Stéphanie Lévesque should try to get someone from Mon Plan Rona to wear it as a publicity stunt.
This, I think is the weakest of all 16 dresses. Made out of canvas its “twist” is that the drawing and the stickers are supposed to be part of it as well. More of a coat than a dress, it’s kind of difficult to pick out from the drawing, which while obviously the intention, doesn’t make it any better in my eyes. It’s not like I’m going to be walking around wearing the drawing when I put on the dress (or coat).
Sorry that my picture is so blurry.
I can’t quite accept that the backdrop for a dress is as important (or even more so) than the actual dress.
Now those are some shoulder pads I can really get into… Or if you would prefer less colloquial phrasing, I get a big kick out of this dress as well. Although I’m not certain I would ever be invited someplace where it would be formal enough to wear. And while I would venture a guess that most of the pieces that were used to make it came from sports cars, it is not a “sporty” outfit in the least.
Ms. Bérubé appears to have turned this concept of transforming old car parts (or more precisely old car seats) into fashion accessories fulltime. Although I think she should exhibit her work at the auto show.
I can’t imagine that a car tire as a corset or belt would be all that comfortable, however choosing it was an inspired choice. Clearly marking the difference between bottom and top, while at the same time hitting you upside the face with where the materials used to make the dress came from. Without the tire, it would be like some sort of overwrought futuristic ball gown suitable for the cover of a Harlequin Romance about a 22nd century debutante.
Although now that I have gone to the Harlequin Romance website, I have discovered that in fact they do not publish any science fiction, but that they do have a series called Harlequin NASCAR (The rush of the race car circuit; the thrill of falling in love®.) So maybe I should change the lines above to read something like “with the tire it is perfect as the ballgown of Dr. Nicole Foster, the heroine of Running Wide Open.
Naw, not even close.
And I’m also not certain what to make of the wires…
Surprisingly, this dress is badly translated. In French it is called “Ordonnance Royale” a pun on the multiple definitions of the word ordonnance. A) a prescription and B) a law. Since it is made up of melted down plastic pill containers and made to look like a ballgown. I think I would have called it something like Royal Script, playing off the multiple definitions of the word script, ne of which is “prescription.” But nobody asked me.
And while it does look like it would be suitable for a princess, I would hate to ask Kate Middleton to have to wear it. As I don’t think melted plastic is the most malleable of materials and according to the tag beside the dress, it weighs in at a little more than 200 pounds.
I’m not sure what to make of this one. Despite using Styrofoam from packaging for the socks and the collar it is mainly made out of what they call a “vacuum bag” but is actually a Madvac Collector Bag. You know one of those little four wheeled buggies with a vacuum tube that looks like an elephant’s trunk that sucks up the garbage from the sidewalk? Well, the bag that is used to collect the trash was used to make this dress.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are signed objects from Quebecois vedettes displayed alongside the dresses. Some have obvious connections, some less so. This is one of the more obvious connections. While Margie Gillis has cut her hair (for a very long time she didn’t) this bird’s next comes from the period when she wasn’t cutting it. At the Biosphere they have a very nice story explaining how it came to be.
The reason it is an obvious connection is that the nest is displayed next to this dress.
It can’t be that comfortable to wear even if they attached the hair to a nylon hairstyling cape, I also would love to know how the hair was attached, colored and how much hairspray was used to keep the hair in place. And while it looks really cool, I’m not entirely convinced that hair counts ass garbage.
It also can serve as an example of how unreligious Quebecois culture has become. As recently as fifty years ago, a hairdress would have been worn by someone feeling particularly guilty about some thing (or things). But this exhibit makes no mention or reference in any way shape or form to the religious nature of wearing hair. Which is apparently still done by Carmelites.
Another impractical dress, especially since it is lit from within. You can see it in full here. I do not know, but I would imagine that this dress was possibly responsible for the Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) and as with the hairdress, I’m not convinced that books qualify as garbage material.
That all being said, an upskirt shot of Chapter Ten is a very abstract thing.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. First I never really thought of shotgun shells as refuse material. Off the top of my head, I can’t imagine that they take up an awful lot of space in landfills. On the other hand, due to the nature of their use I would also imagine that they aren’t brought to landfills and for the most part are left scattered on the ground. But then again I’m not a hunter, and the hunters that I know of are extremely conscientious stewards of nature. So it wouldn’t be a stretch to for them to pick up after themselves, either.
Then we get into the whole use of deadly arms as fashion statement morass. And while I’m certain that there are people out there who match their Smith and Wesson to their bracelet, or more simply, carry a gun around like my father wears a watch. I’m not one of them. Heck I don’t even carry around anything on me that tells the time.
I can see the allure of using brass tipped red plastic cylinders as the basic material for a dress, but the more I think about it, the less I like this particular dress. I don’t remember where or who, but I do remember somewhere learning that the designers were assigned their materials, and so if my memory is in fact correct, I can’t really blame Geneviève Dumas and Geneviève Flageol.
But this is where it veers off into the surreal. For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, the exhibit designers decided that dresses made from strange materials wasn’t enough of a draw, so they engaged some vedettes to sign objects that some how had significance to the dresses themselves. Someone decided that a gasmask used by Jean-François Lépine would be make for a good pairing with the Bullet Dress. As M. Lépine writes on the tag for the display “Pour moi, c’est devenu un objet fétiche qui me rappelle que, même dans l’adversité la plus opaque, l’espoir est toujours permis.” Or for the squareheads reading this: “It has become a symbolic object for me; it reminds me that even in the darkest hours of adversity, hope remains.” (As an aside, that is a kick-ass translation, I hope that the designers for the show got paid at least as much as the translators did – but somehow I have a sneaking suspicion that they didn’t.)
But, if you take the statement at face value, it is completely bizarre. I’m not certain what would give the sense of adversity, the bullets? Wearing the dress? Thinking about the use of the bullets? I dunno. But I do know that there are people out there who would pay good money to wear a sexy red Mexican inspired frock like that despite whatever implications it might have.
If you’d like to see the front of the dress, click here, I used the photo yesterday, and don’t want to be duplicating things.
I think that this is my favorite dress out of the whole bunch. But more in theory than actual practice. Inspired and inventive. Sassy, smelly and insouciant!! (hey! maybe I could get a gig working for Elle Quebec!)
But someone should let Ms. Bouchard know that if she ever wants to make a second salmon skin dress that she should talk to Lottas Garfveri and/or get her books. Her dresses would be just as Inspired and inventive. Sassy and insouciant, but they would no longer be smelly.
I’m not entirely sold on her use of mussel shells as accessories. And given the exotic nature of the material used, I’m not certain that I really need to discuss the actual design. For the most part, when using skin (ie leather) as a dress material most, if not all the really impressive dresses I’ve seen tend to follow the form of the body fairly closely. As you can see with this one, it is much more florid. Not quite what I would call rococo, but approaching. I don’t know if that was caused by there still being some meat left on the skin when it was cut (and as a consequence why it needs to be refrigerated).
It appears to me that it was made more for one of those matronly mermaids, and not one of those nymph-like mermaids.
And the reason the photographs are so blue, is because of the fluorescent lights in the refrigerator where they have to keep the dress, since Ms. Bouchard made the executive decision not to tan the salmon skins.
A flapper inspired dress made of old tin aluminum cans.
Next to each dress the exhibition designers wrote some sort of lagniappe next to each dress. In this case they decided that everyone should know that it Maude Lapierre made 4,376 16 gauge holes in the tin aluminum. Personally I would have preferred to know how heavy (or light) the dress was. While it might be aluminum, it still is metal, and before I were to wear it, I’d want to know how many kilos it was.
I’ve been meaning to write this one for a fairly long time, since August actually. But seeing as how I took 104 pictures, getting them all organized, uploaded and labelled seemed like a daunting task, so I did what anybody else would do, I put it off. Until today. If you click through to see all the pictures, it’s going to take a while to load, sorry in advance.
In short, since the Biosphere is an “Environment Museum” it only makes sense that they mount exhibits designed to promote environmental awareness. And some bright wag decided to commission 16 clothing designers (I think all women) to create dresses using refuse material.
Now while I am an environmentally aware person and keep a fairly sustainable lifestyle, I’m not big on preaching about it. As a consequence what really struck me about this exhibit was not its Green-ness, but that while everyone was going gaga over the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal here was a truly original fashion exhibit that was not getting any press anywhere.
And while I might not proselytize about sustainability, like certain people, I do champion the underdog and Outfits from a New Era at the Biosphere is definitely underdog material if there ever was. The museum probably counts the number of daily visitors in the high two figures, has some breathtaking views of Montreal and is a charter member of the Cult of Bucky. What more do you need?
Anyhows, while I do not consider myself a fashionista, nor an authority on fabrics and style, instead of viewing these as liabilities I figured (like usual) that instead, if I approached this as a learning opportunity it shouldn’t be a hindrance to writing about it and taking some pictures. Right?
To me it was more of a compare and contrast situation. While it seemed like everyone and their mother was raving about how original and inventive M. Gaultier’s dresses were, here were some truly original and inventive dresses that weren’t getting any attention whatsoever. And while I’m certain that at some point M. Gaultier did in fact actually touch the dresses on exhibit that bore his name, I’m fairly convinced that he didn’t actually do much (if any) of the sewing, knitting, weaving, embroidery or any of the other tasks involved in making the dresses.
Whereas even without doing serious research, I’d bet my bottom dollar that each and everyone of the designers who made the “Outfits from a New Era” was significantly involved in the actual fabrication of their dresses. And while I am all for the artist-as-thinker-and-not-necessarily-creator concept (see Andy Warhol’s Red Self-Portraits One, Two, Three, Four, Five , Six, Seven and Eight for a fascinating insight into the attribution of artwork)
If I’m going to make one complaint (actually as I’m less than halfway through, I imagine that there will be other complaints, let’s just call this one the first. Which is not to say or suggest that the exhibit is bad, just that there is always room for improvement). This contemporary fad, or what I hope is a fad, for Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) drives me up a wall. In general when it comes to art/culture/things to look at or watch, you have two choices if you’re indoors; A white cube or a black box.
White Cubes tend toward being bright and Black Boxes (as you might expect) tend to be dark. Since they are dark, the Black Boxes use highly focused spotlights to draw your attention to stuff that the exhibition designers want you to look at. In contrast to the White Cube where, for the most part, your eye is free to roam where you wish. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I can’t stand exhibits that are housed in Black Boxes. And Outfits from a New Era is, unfortunately in a Black Box, pity.
I don’t know if it is because my eyes don’t react well to large contrasts in brightness, or if because I’m in darkness for the most part I don’t get the nuances of color as well as I would if it were brighter, or if it has something to do with my glasses. But whatever it is, Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) bugs the heck out of me.
I think you can see what I mean by a lot of nuance being missed because of the Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) in the picture above. Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin is a light, wispy and diaphanous something or other that to my mind would be appropriate in a boudoir or a pornographic film shoot. Apparently made from 2,500 light bulbs and 66 meters of stripped copper wire.
One of those garments that professes to show more than it hides, in French it is called “le grand courant lumineux” or in a hackneyed translation “the great current of light,” it was initially called “Le grand souffle” which has more to do with breath and wind than electricity. Which gives a much better idea of the “wispy and diaphanous something or other nature” of the garment.
You can see better detail pictures here> I’m fairly certain that it doesn’t light up or get illuminated from within. But beyond the wispy nature of it, I’m not quite certain what to make of it. While the use of the light-bulbs is alright, there isn’t really anything in it beyond the use of non-traditional materials that pushes any boundaries. And given what has been already done with LEDs and clothing, I’m inclined to think that’s it’s kind of like the clothes your sister’s friend in high school wore. Something designed to make her look good, not making any real statements and not that different from what everyone else was wearing.
This little frock caught my eye, although I don’t know if it was because it’s black, and as you know, black is the new black. Or if it was because it was strapless and since I am not y-chromosome challenged, bare shoulders always make me shiver slightly, even during the summer, even on a faceless mannequin. Or what. I’ll leave it up to your imagination.
Anyhows, this was the first one, where I thought to myself: “I’m not so certain that they actually used stuff from the garbage to make this…” Seeing as how it is made from those plastic bags you take with you when you’re walking your dog and you’re playing State Farm and being a good neighbor and picking up after your dog and everything.
None the less, I like how it incorporates the paw print motif from the bags, is over the knee and has some sort of petticoat action happening. Kind of like being post-modern and anti-nostalgic at the same time.
Although I’m not certain I want to know what’s in the bag…
When I first read this review in the New York Times last year, I said to myself, “Maybe, just perhaps I should go to London, it sounds like a pretty kick-ass exhibit.” But then life got in the way, I put the idea on the back burner and almost forgot about it.
But everything works, if you let it. And it wasn’t but a couple of months later that I discovered that the exhibit, Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 1900-1929 was going to be in Quebec City this summer. Sweet! While it is only a five hour plane ride from Montreal to London, it is only a three hour car ride from Montreal to Quebec City. Or in other words 40% shorter, and there’s room to stretch, and the food is better.
One problem, while I don’t know how to fly, buying a plane ticket isn’t too complicated. But as I also don’t know how to drive, trying to find a sucker someone extremely kind, nice and generous who would drive me and my sorry ass down river so I could see a bunch of ballet costumes that were almost a hundred years old did almost prove to be an insurmountable obstacle.
In the interim this review came out in Le Devoir (unfortunately behind a paywall) where Catherine Lalonde wrote « Demeure donc une impression de rendez-vous manqué. » Or if you prefer, “One gets a sense of missed opportunity.” Which almost put a kibosh on my desires. But thankfully I am pigheaded, persistent, and kinda realize that my cultural connections are much more aligned with the New York Times than they are with Le Devoir. So on August 29, I got chauffeured down the 20, and boy am I glad I got so lucky.
That’s one of the things I didn’t like about the Le Devoir review, given that a hard copy review has serious space limitations to use more than 30% of the word count explaining the historical background is a decision I’m not quite sure I understand.
Now that we’re all on the same page, what made it across the ocean is a slightly smaller and modified of the exhibit from the Victoria and Albert Museum called Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 1900-1929. Basically there was a whack of stuff added from the Bibliolthèque de la danse Vincent Warren and they cut some of the antecedents and maybe (my memory is a tad sketchy on this) some of the stuff that happened after he died. In Quebec there were nine sections in three galleries, in England there were (I think) two more sections, and I don’t know how many more galleries.
To cut to the chase, what got me were the costumes
Now a) I’m used to seeing my ballet from the cheap seats and b) most of the dance performances that I see these days are not ballet. So being able to get this close to them and see them from all sides was surprisingly quite a thrill. The pictures don’t do them justice.
I was also fascinated by this piece of psychedelia, made more than 30 years before the invention of the word psychedelic.
Unfortunately, as I was initially planning on just enjoying the exhibit, and not writing about it, I didn’t take a single note, and as you can see am having to rely on pictures from other sources. However after going through the entire show I did ask a couple of questions of Jean-Pierre Labiau, curator of the exhibition, and he was quite gracious and generous with his time. I was also able to score one of the visitor’s booklets that they gave everyone, so I don’t quite sound so foolish.
They also gave everyone an audio guide, which only contained music. As M. Labiau pointed out there isn’t an awful lot of classical ballet in Quebec City and I guess that they wanted everyone to be able to hear the music that would have accompanied the performances. I was able to avoid the difficulties Ms. Lalonde had, by just saying “thanks, but no thanks,” and walking around the exhibit without headphones.
Also, I’m not sure if I was the one setting up the exhibit, that I would have done it thematically. Given how didactic it was (sorry about my consistent overuse and repetition of the word didactic, but I’m going through a phase. Not in this article specifically, but in life and in general I’m using it way too much).
I think, arranging it chronologically might have helped a bit, but no one thought to ask me. And then another thought that occurred to me on the ride back was that while being able to see the Picasso, Matisse and Braque designed costumes was pretty cool, artists today, or make that contemporary Quebecois artists who paint, don’t do work in textile.
I don’t know if this is a good thing – keeping your artistic output focused always helps in getting recognition – but it was kind of cool. It would be interesting to see someone like Adad Hannah, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Shary Boyle or Isabelle Hayeur design ballet (or theatre) costumes or more generally work with fabric.
And being able to see the sketches by Picasso, Matisse and Braque (and lots of others as well – heck I don’t think I have ever been that close to anything Coco Channel touched ever before (or will be ever again) in my life.
And this too was interesting, virtual reality before they invented computers, or make believe you were Diaghilev in your very own home.
And as this was my first visit to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, it struck me as being much smaller than I imagined, at some point I’m going to have to try to sucker convince or bribe someone to go back.