Category Archives: Photography

Montreal Art Chat, Episode 3, Le Mois de la Photo

Montreal Art Chat, Episode 3

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Le Mois de la Photo a Montreal
Le Mois de la Photo a Montreal

In this episode Erica Blume and Chris ‘Zeke’ Hand discuss the work shown by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Dominique Blain (with Zoe Keating), Hans Eijkelboom, Roberto Pellegrinuzzi, Christopher Baker, MissPixels and Andreas Rutkauskas during Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal.

Montreal Art Chat, Episode 2, Roberto Pellegrinuzzi & Lorraine Pritchard


Montreal Art Chat, Episode 2

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10 juillet 2015 8:56 photograph, digital print on canvas, acrylic resin 2015 70 x 105.5 cm (27.5” x 41.5”)
10 juillet 2015 8:56
photograph, digital print on canvas, acrylic resin
70 x 105.5 cm (27.5” x 41.5”)

Calendar, 2015 Acrylic and pencil on washi 140.97 x 74.93 cm / 55.5 x 29.5 inches
Calendar, 2015
Acrylic and pencil on washi
140.97 x 74.93 cm / 55.5 x 29.5 inches

In this episode Erica Blume and Chris ‘Zeke’ Hand discuss Roberto Pellegrinuzzi’s exhibition Résonances at Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain and Lorraine Pritchard’s exhibition Équilibre at Beaux-arts des Amériques

EZ Montreal Art Podcast, Season 2 – Episode 1: Chih-Chien Wang, Jim Holyoak, Samuel Roy-Bois.


In this episode of the EZ Montreal Art Podcast Eloi Desjardins and Chris ‘Zeke’ Hand discuss As Far as We Were, as Close as I Can, Photographs by Chih-Chien Wang. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. Until March 17, 2013. Curated by Diane Charbonneau, Lyncathrope by Jim Holyoak at Donald Browne. Until March 2. And J’ai moonwalké, sans cesse, jusqu’à l’épuisement by Samuel Roy-Bois, at Parisian Laundry. Until February 16.

If you can answer the trivia question, email us at and you can win tickets to The Builders at the National Gallery of Canada, which we discussed in episode 12 of the EZ Montreal Art Podcast.

The EZ Montreal Art Podcast; Season 2 – Episode 1

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If you would like to hear season 1 of The EZ Montreal Art Podcast click here: Episode 13, Episode 12, Episode 11, Episode 10, Episode 9, Episode 8, Episode 7, Episode 6, Episode 5, Episode 4, Episode 3, Episode 2, Episode 1.

Mouvement Art Public at Place Émilie-Gamelin


In theory I really like the concept and ideas behind Mouvement art public, in practice, not so much. But let me back up a little bit. Back in 2007, Manuel Bujold, a friend of mine was able to convince a whack of people that any unused inventory of ad space on bus shelters should be given over to quote art, unquote. All fine and dandy, until I saw it in action. Basically, besides the photographs they reproduced there was also some text about Mouvement art public, the artist and if I remember correctly, the artist as well. I’m still undecided if I like the fact that they were blatantly obvious about the images being reproductions or not, and while I like some information about the artist, especially when they are not well known artists, I prefer to have to figure out the actual art myself.

They continued in 2008 adding some fairly well known artists, like Ed Burtynsky into the mix. Then they started branching out into those ubiquitous billboard like structures that the city uses on some major streets like McGill College in a misguided attempt to get people to stroll along a rather desolate but none-the-less major thoroughfare. Then for unknown reasons they installed them over at the Atwater Market, Place Émilie-Gamelin and Marche Maisonneuve.

These people sized (as opposed to highway sized) billboards ditched the excess text explaining stuff, and made it look like the images being presented were if not originals, intended to be exhibited that way. Digging slightly deeper, it seems that once, or twice a year they change what’s being shown. Although as you might expect it doesn’t get an awful lot of press.

Anyhows, in my meanderings around the city, I’ve seen two exhibits at Place Émilie-Gamelin and one at Marche Maisonneuve. The exhibits at Place Émilie-Gamelin were called Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, and Backstage. Today I am going to focus on the exhibits at Place Émilie-Gamelin, and if I am real good I’ll get down to the Atwater Market to find out what they have up there sometime soon.

Backstage is a series of photographic portraits of pop musicians before or after performing taken by Valerie Jodoin Keaton.

From Backstage by Valerie Jodoin Keaton
From Backstage by Valerie Jodoin Keaton
From Backstage by Valerie Jodoin Keaton
From Backstage by Valerie Jodoin Keaton
From Backstage by Valerie Jodoin Keaton
From Backstage by Valerie Jodoin Keaton

Initially, because of the location and the rather scruffy nature of the various Green Rooms, I thought that they were in fact portraits of folks who were itinerant in nature, which goes to show you how much I pay attention to pop music. I personally know a couple of people who also do that sort of photography, namely Eva Blue and Susan Moss. Both of them take much better pictures of musicians than Ms. Jodoin Keaton

And that is ultimately why I like the concept in theory more than practice, when push comes to shove, it truly is about the art, and if the art doesn’t cut it, then no amount of posturing is going to save it. Her black and white portraits don’t really capture anything about any of the musicians. They are more voyeuristic, but not in a good way, attempting to document something ephemeral or transient. More in a “I got to go backstage, and you didn’t” sort of way.

In particular, I find her insistence on converting her images to black and white completely annoying and thoroughly useless. It’s a pathetic attempt to give some thin veneer of history to some rather pedestrian pictures of pop stars, whose music for the most part will not be remembered for much longer than the time it takes to sing one of their songs.

Why Don't We Do It In The Road? By The Blind Artists Collective
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? By The Blind Artists Collective
From Why Don't We Do It In The Road? By The Blind Artists Collective
From Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? By The Blind Artists Collective

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? By The Blind Artists Collective while significantly better than Ms. Jodoin Keaton’s pictures, isn’t sufficiently strong to make up for them. Maddeningly obtuse, trying to find any information about the artists, the images or just about anything else on-line was an exercise in frustration. The only thing I could find was this blurb on the Mouvement Art Public’s website, which doesn’t say bupkis.

A series of images, obviously, taken on the street. Each is colorful in its own way. They are all strong enough that they were able to wrestle my attention away from the various dramas happening in and around Place Émilie-Gamelin. But not sufficiently strong to be truly memorable. I’m torn between deciding that it is a good thing that they have been defaced by the various people who frequent Place Émilie-Gamelin, or if it is in fact a bad thing. Given that it is so obviously some kind of empowering project for disadvantaged folk, the idea that the “collective” is larger than just the people squeezing the shutter button is intriguing. But at the same time, I’m not that keen on condoning obvious vandalism.

Ultimately, I think that this is the kind of art that Mouvement Art Public showcases best. It’s just a matter of getting more information about it out there, and attempting to get more attention paid to it at the same time.

Henri Venne : Somewhere in Between at Art Mûr


Back in 2004 I saw a show by Henri Venne at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, I wasn’t impressed. I have a vague memory of large blue paintings of the sky, or something similar. Filed him away as a decent Quebecois artists whose work I wasn’t particularly fond of, kind of like Pierre Lalonde or Boom Desjardins. Someone kind of faceless in the crowd, who is required in order to have a crowd.

I don’t think I particularly noticed when he got a show at the Musee d’art de Joliette (and shouldn’t an artist with a career that’s going places first have a show in Joliette and then in Montreal? And not the other way around?) nor was I expecting to see his work when I went to Art Mûr – I had trucked up there ostensibly to see something else, more on that later. Anyhows, I was quite impressed.

One of the sensations I kind of remember from his show in 2004 was some kind of meditative spin on things, him trying to paint (I think they were paintings) the space in between dozing off and a full sleep. That kind of trance you can end up in if you repeat the same word, gesture or action over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over (ain’t copy/paste grand?!). As far as I can tell there are lots of people out there who believe that those trances are good. I’m not one of them, which is why I probably lumped him in the same space as Boom Desjardins.

This time however I was very impressed at the shininess of his current work. Where the work of his in my memory was kind of flat with a subtle texture (again, I think) from the brush. Which kind of aided to at least understand the Zen-like sensations I felt I was supposed to feel. These photographs are shiny to the point where if they were laid on the floor, you could almost dive right in. All of them are photographs roughly two feet by three feet that are mounted underneath a very thick piece of plexiglass.

Henri Venne, You Should Have Seen What I’ve Seen (detail) 2012
Henri Venne, You Should Have Seen What I’ve Seen (detail) 2012

I accidentally forgot my measuring tape in my other pants when I visited Art Mûr so I can’t tell you if it’s ¼” or ½” or something even thicker. But great gosh-a’mighty that plexiglass made them shiny as all get go. Now I kind of have this hate/hate relationship with shiny contemporary art. I tend to look at it as a extremely facile and simplistic method to make otherwise unremarkable art extremely sellable. Normally it’s done with multiple layers of varnish which requires some (not much) skill – as an aside it’s because of the varnishing that here in Quebec we call an art opening a Vernissage. Back in the good old days, once a painter finished some paintings for a an exhibition, he’d invite his friends over to help him varnish them so that they would be suitable for display. Since varnishing a painting is a fairly tedious job, he’d (back in the good old days 99% of your professional artists were men) have to bribe them with bottles of wine to keep them happy. As a consequence, these varnishing parties could get quite boisterous, and it was only a matter of time before a vernissage became synonymous with the opening of an exhibit. But I digress…

Henri Venne, Somewhere in Between at Art Mur, installation view
Henri Venne, Somewhere in Between at Art Mur, installation view

M. Venne’s work in this show is eight nearly monochromatic, nearly featureless, photographs (there are only seven pieces of art, because one of the pieces, I’ll Keep You There… So Long is a diptych). As simple as rain on a window, the most prevalent feature of these photographs is the color. They are for the most part gradients of primary color (gradiented primary color? Primary color gradients?) – there is one that is orange – and look pretty much like what I would imagine the world looks like if you were severely myopic.

Henri Venne, I’ll Keep You There… So Long (diptych), digital print mounted under plexiglass, 67cm x 183cm, 2012
Henri Venne, I’ll Keep You There… So Long (diptych), digital print mounted under plexiglass, 67cm x 183cm, 2012

Extremely simple in concept and form, it’s the sort of thing which makes me gnash my teeth. Instead of using new and improved tools to make new and improved art. M. Venne uses new and improved tools (in this case a fancy-ass digital camera, and fancy-ass digital printer, and a fancy-ass laminator) to make the same old, same old. While I probably should applaud him for being consistent with his art, I can’t help but feel a little bit cheated, because the picture itself is meaningless. Without a title and the title of the show itself all they are are shiny contemporary versions of medium sized colorfields. They aren’t breaking any new ground nor they aren’t earth-shattering, and while all art doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or earth-shattering, when you are using current technologies it helps, a lot. Because if your art isn’t ground-breaking and earth-shattering then it runs the risk of being mundane. Being mundane isn’t a good thing.

Henri Venne, Tomorrow Started, 85cm x 102cm, digital print mounted under plexiglass
Henri Venne, Tomorrow Started, 85cm x 102cm, digital print mounted under plexiglass

It’s the kind of work that I am used to seeing from artists at Galerie de Bellefeuille or Simon Blais. While I am not against the commercialization of art, there are certain times when it hits me that something “art-like” is much closer to being a commodity, and this is one of those times, right down to the fact that he does not bother to mention to size of the print run for each of the pictures.

Despite the bafflegab and gobbledy-gook in Art Mûr’s magazine about pensiveness, and reflection, to me M. Venne’s work is all about sellability. There are some times when shopping can cause a sensation of bliss, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. So I really shouldn’t be raining on anyone’s parade. Especially, since I think that M. Venne’s work is incredibly sellable. They’re priced appropriately, in that region that will make the buyer instantaneously recognize that the work is serious, while at the same time not being outrageous. Or if you prefer, about 57¢/cm2 a pop or $3.59/in2. (66¢/cm2 with taxes. If you’re buying Quebecois art, you can save some serious change by having it shipped either out of province or out of the country).

Henri Venne, Somewhere in Between at Art Mur, installation view
Henri Venne, Somewhere in Between at Art Mur, installation view

At that price, don’t forget that it probably would help immensely to bring both a swatch from your couch and a paint chip from your wall color so as to make sure that they match the picture.

Henri Venne: Somewhere in Between was exhibited at Art Mûr from April 26 until June 16, 2012

Blanc et Noir at Galerie Mile End


I freaking hate it, when I ask if I can take pictures at an exhibit, and some person who doesn’t know any better starts spouting about copyright and uses that as the excuse why they won’t let me take a snapshot. Listen people, the Canadian copyright act is right here. In it there’s a paragraph, number 29 to be exact, that talks about Fair Dealing. If I am writing a review of your show, I can use pictures that I took to illustrate the article and not impinge, infringe or otherwise step on your intellectual property. So folks, how about this? Next time I show up and ask to take pictures, understand I am being courteous and polite and be courteous and polite in return and say, “yes.”

I bring this up, because last weekend, I went to Galerie Mile End, and asked to take pictures. The woman who was there, didn’t know copyright from a hole in the wall, but insisted that was the reason why I couldn’t take pictures. She then proceeded to watch me for five minutes (there was no one else in the gallery except the two of us) until I realized that the only reason she was watching me was that I had not put my camera away (like I’m going to surreptitiously snap a picture and copy someone’s art and call it my own! Gimme a break!). So I put away the camera, she went back to making art, but then to make matters worse insisted on coming out once every five minutes for the next 15 minutes with some supposedly helpful suggestion (“the artists’ have their business cards over here, if you take them, you can call them and ask them if it is ok to take pictures,” “the artist who did these pieces is going to be here at 2:30, if you wait you can ask her if it is ok to take pictures of her work,” “if there was any of my work in the show, I’d let you take pictures of it”).

Suffice it to say, I was not in a good mood, and slowly got more and more annoyed at her as time progressed. Instead of snapping and throwing or shouting something. I gripped my pen and clipboard even tighter still, took a couple of deep breaths and did my best not to let my foul mood cloud my judgement or opinion of the work on the walls – but man, oh, man was it tough. All the way home I was contemplating some kind of savage ripost or 10,000 word screed. Or just spiking the whole darn thing. But when I got home, I put on Brahm’s Symphony #1, took a nap, and when I woke up, everything was much better. Thanks Johannes.

OK, now that I got that off my chest, some background. Galerie Mile End is an offshoot of the Park Avenue YMCA. It’s a kind of community centre/art studios/gallery/collective type of thing. You know, one of those places where people with day jobs that aren’t quite as fulfilling as they hoped, go after work to do creative things. Paint, Sculpt, Draw, etc. As a consequence a small supportive community arises out of and around them, and the people making the art don’t get driven crazy by their jobs/commute/relationships/kids, etc. Just in case yo9u thought I was being 100% literal, sorry, I over simplified things – it obviously isn’t that easy in real life, but you get the point. I’d like to say that I have followed the members of Galerie Mile End closely for the past 14 years and as a consequence can say with authority, that none of their members have ever gone on to make the jump from day job to full-time artist. But I haven’t, so I can’t and that’s just the last little bit of frustration leaking out of me, pay it never no mind. Things start looking up from here on it, I promise.

The reason I was interested in going to see the exhibit was because En Masse has kind of been taking over the city. It seems that everywhere I look, there is some very large black and white cartoon-like mural made by something like 70 dozen different local artists. It seems to me that Black and White is the new black – or maybe the new Friday, or something like that. Anyhows, I was curious to see if En Masse had had any influence on the fine folk at Galerie Mile End. In short no. While the exhibit at Galerie Mile End was a group show, it was not collaborative in the least. While there was something approaching thematic unity based on the title, I did see some greens, and a couple of other colors that were not black or white – and there was quite a lot of gray as well, which technically I figure is alright, but if I wanted to get all nit-picky about it, I could. But I think I have gotten rid of all the frustration I had over the weekend (I actually listened to the Brahms #1, something like four times…) so we’ll let it slide.

There were about three dozen different artists involved. Some of them showing multiple pieces (alright), some of them showing multiple pieces in very different media (not so hot). Anytime I look at any type of collection of art (or for that matter a collection of anything else) I try to make some sense out of it by looking for connections. When I am introduced to an artists’ work, it is extremely difficult to be able to grasp what they do, how they think, why they create or the thoughts behind their creations if their output goes from one extreme to another – especially with artists that I am unfamiliar with. It’s all fine and dandy for Picasso to sculpt, paint, and draw, he’s been dead for almost 40 years and his art is fairly well known in the Western world. He is not trying to impress anyone with his art anymore. However, some artist who isn’t quite as well known as Mr. Picasso ends up confusing the heck out of me if the first time I see some of their work there’s an abstract sculpture, a painting of some flowers and a cliched photograph with some kind of motivational text on it. I’m left wondering if the artist thinks that these particular objects are in fact their best work, or if in fact they think that absolutely everything they make is worthy of being exhibited? While I realize that people have many different facets to their personalities, trying to group the three pieces together into on e larger understanding of the motivation of the artist is not exactly easy. From where I sit, it would be better to have a show of just abstract sculptures, then another show of flower paintings a third of cliched motivational photography and only then have a show combining all three media. But that’s my personal preference, your may be different.

So as I can get it out of the way, and not have to try to remember to do it, these are the names of the artists participating in Blanc et Noir at Galerie Mile End: Anne Salomon, Bouthaina Bouzid, Celine Landry, Claude Lépine, Claudette Seguin-Beaulieu, Emily Wai Yee Leong, Esther Kanfi, Gaby Orbach, Henri Enfant, Josée Laurion, Laila Maestari, Louise Rousseau, Marcia Campillo, Michelle Bonneville, Monique Corbeil, Myles Johnston, Olga Maksimova, Paulette Dufresne, Pierre Foret, Rachel Dionne, Sandra Glenns, Thibauld Lelievre, and yves vaillancourt. By my count I think I liked four pieces (or at least that’s how many I starred in my notes). Not a good percentage in any way shape of form.

However (at some point I am going to have to either drop the use of the word “however” altogether, or start using it even more) that is not to say that the other works were not good, just that they weren’t up my alley. Using a different method of scoring, I would say that that about 90% of the works exhibited were technically good, proficient. That the artist making the work knew how to use their tools properly. That’s a much better percentage, don’t you think? But either way an exhibit is only as good as the worst piece in the show. And no matter how you cut it, there was some stuff in the exhibit that was weak both on a technical level and personally on an aesthetic level. If you’re going to use something as vague as “Black and White” as a unifying theme the quality of the art by definition needs to be of the highest caliber. I don’t know who was responsible for picking and choosing the art, but somehow I get the distinct impression that there was some kind of call made, and anyone and everyone who responded (including the people with art that included green) was accepted.

The show was hung, not so much with an eye to balancing the works. Nor did it seem to me as being hung in order to create (the dreaded) dialogue between pieces. The way that I saw it, the show was hung in an attempt to maximize the number of pieces that could be shown while for the most part trying to keep everything at eye level. As a consequence I either would hate to see the work that wasn’t accepted or I strongly suspect nothing was turned down.

Initially, in my outline this was where I was going to write about “The Good Stuff.” But now, I realize that really wouldn’t serve any purpose other than to piss people off – and given that I was pissed off over the weekend, passing it on doesn’t strike me as being particularly useful. As I said there are good pieces in the show, and there are even pieces in the show that I quite like, a lot. But the instant I make that division, someone is not going to be happy. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the show itself. By now, that should be obvious. To me it was kind of like going to a restaurant where there was one dish that was amazing and wonderful, the rest of the meal was acceptable but the service was horrendous. An art exhibition is more than just slapping some art on the walls and serving some cheap wine at an opening. There needs to be something holding it together. There needs to be some focus and while there doesn’t need to be some theory behind it, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Then finally there should always be some threshold of what is acceptable to exhibit. It’s all fine and dandy to be polite and diplomatic in person and with people. Art (for the most part) is made up of inanimate objects that do not have feelings that would be hurt if they weren’t exhibited. Someone needs to take charge and draw that line when organizing an exhibition. That and let me take some pictures as well.

Blanc et Noir at Galerie Mile End, 5345 Park Ave. until June 17, 2012.

Edward Burtynsky : OIL at the McCord Museum


Once again I’m late to the party. The exhibit was up from October 6, 2011 to January 8, 2012. I’m just realizing now, how backlogged those rhymes about the Triennale Québécoise and other things made me. Like Marie Chouinard’s The Golden Mean (Live) I saw it at the end of November, 2011. Jeez! It’s a good thing that there is a history of reviewing shows that you can no longer see, otherwise y’all would think that I am one of the most irresponsible people in the known universe. But before I go find a whip so I can flagellate myself, we gotta get to the verse:

Ed Burtynsky takes really big photographs.
For the most part I don’t think he does anything by halfs.
Big political statements
I hear they cost many many cents.

Mostly on concerns about the environment
Places with natural resources and the changes they underwent.
I really liked the images of the refineries,
Sometimes you gotta think duodecimally and not in binaries.

His pictures of highways were also very impressive,
The Golden State Freeway, like La Joconde is something I won’t outlive.
But condemning Talladega and Sturgis
Is where, from my beliefs, he diverges.

They’re images designed to make you pause and reflect,
I think it is the earth that he wants you to protect.
But it is possible to be too politically correct.

Yes, big photographs are good. I still get weak in the knees thinking about the Andreas Gursky show I saw back in 2002 in Chicago. Big (for the most part) is synonymous with good, especially when talking about photographs.

But this one raised more questions than it answered. The first one being, that it was sponsored by Scotiabank. The very same Scotiabank that has a mutual fund of $170 million dollars invested in “equity securities of Canadian resource based companies, including companies that operate in the oil and gas, gold and precious metals, metals and minerals, and forest products industries.” – The One Sheet (pdf). Does this mean that Mr. Burtynsky is allowing himself to be used for greenwashing purposes? Or is he just willing to take money from whomever without thinking about their ethics? Or something else? I dunno, as I said his show raises more questions than it answers.

The second question that came to my mind as I was looking at it, was how much oil did Mr. Burtynsky use in order to get his pictures? There are shots that could have only been taken from a helicopter. There are other ones where he went to rather obscure places (Sturgis, South Dakota, Walcott, Iowa, Baku, Azerbaijan, Chittagong, Bangladesh) which would have either required some serious long distance driving or flying. And while I’m fairly certain that in order to take his pictures he doesn’t travel alone, I gotta think that he has a rather large carbon footprint.

The reason I ask questions like these, is because according to the press release the images in the show “deliver a social and environmental message that is both disturbing and thought-provoking.” So I can’t be accused of being the only person linking the concern for the environment and the images. What’s that line about glass houses and stones?

But enough about the theoretical questions, what are the pictures like? ‘Cuz isn’t it possible to appreciate them aesthetically without giving one good gosh darn hoot about any political message that Mr. Burtynsky is trying to make? Short answer: For the most part they are very good. As I mentioned up above “Big (for the most part) is synonymous with good, especially when talking about photographs.

The longer, nuanced and more detailed answer is as follows: Spread over two floors, it presents something like four or five dozen images that vary in size from 68″ x 78″ to 29½” x 36½”, with most of them being 51″ x 63″. Organized thematically, they span three of the four sections that he lists on his website; Extraction & Refinement, Transportation & Motor Culture and The End Of Oil (somehow Detroit Motor City section didn’t make the cut at the McCord, I can’t understand why).

Now while I don’t know too much about photography, there was the aforementioned Gursky show I saw in Chicago and if my memory serves his teachers at art school were Bernd and Hilla Becher. Don’t quote me on this, but if they weren’t the first people to take large pictures of industrial things, they definitely were the folks who made it hip. Mr. Burtynsky definitely owes them something. What I’m not sure. Because he doesn’t copy them (at least as far as I can tell) but at least as far as recognizing that he is mining a field that they were instrumental in making.

Mr. Burtynsky, does them one better, his are larger and in color. Have I mentioned that big is good, when it comes to photographs?

For the most part his images are very formally set up. If I were to make a gross generalization about Mr. Burtynsky’s landscape photographs, I’d say that the picture would be taken from a high vantage point, if not a helicopter, some sort of scaffolding was used, there would be an immense foreground, taking up something like ¾ of the image. There would be mountains in the background, or something mountain-like taking up the other ¼ of the image. The sky (and this is where my knowledge of photography is woefully lacking) is completely washed out, to the extent that I would make a pinky bet that Mr. Burtynsky’s skies are very familiar with Photoshop (or Gimp).

AMARC #3 Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2006 Courtesy
AMARC #3 Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2006 Courtesy

The foreground is some kind of large collection of something industrial. Endless repetition of form with minor variations since each object is distinct. And since they are so large and there are so many objects in the picture it’s quite easy to literally get lost in it. On one side that’s the fun part. On the other, once you realize that there is a formula it kind of makes me think that while Mr. Burtynsky is making some sort of commentary on 20th century industrialization, he is at the same time being very mechanical in how he makes his pictures.

Oil Fields #10 McKittrick, California, USA, 2002 Courtesy
Oil Fields #10 McKittrick, California, USA, 2002 Courtesy

You get the picture.

One other thought that occurred to me as I was looking at the pictures. Not a single one was signed, and there was no information on how many prints had been made. Not that that would detract from the image itself, but it’s just that if I want to buy into the concept that the images Mr. Burtynsky makes are art and not just some mass produced industrial object that happens to look pretty, it would be nice to have his John Hancock on it and know that there were only XXX copies made. But I would guess I’m in the minority here. Or maybe he signed and numbered them on the back.

As I wrote in my notes, there really is no movement in the pictures. There was also a distinct lack of people in the pictures. While I didn’t keep count, there couldn’t have been more than half-a-dozen people. I wonder if Mr. Burtynsky has ever done portraits, and if he has, I’d love to see them. I’d guess that he would ask his subjects to dress in tuxedos. (ba-da-boom!) His images are that formal.

I always find it a tad awkward when I come across an exhibit that has an agenda, like this one does. Even if it is an agenda that I agree with. I find that trying to force an idea on someone by using an art exhibit extremely difficult. In order to do so, the the exhibit, for the most part, has to be incredibly simplistic. It tends to be repetitive as well, and I find that in order to make their point they end up being dumbed down to the point where the idea that they are trying to promote becomes more suitable for five year-olds than adults. As you might have guessed, I’m not five years-old.

But enough of that, and lets concentrate on the pictures. As I mentioned in the ditty, his pictures of highway interchanges are quite cool.

Highway #5 Los Angeles, California, USA, 2009 courtesy
Highway #5 Los Angeles, California, USA, 2009 courtesy

I think part of the allure comes from the fact that he is using something like a helicopter to take the pictures. The pictures he gets are not the type of pictures that are available to M. & Mme. Tout le monde. And that I think is something incredibly significant. That sense of discovery, seeing something for the first time, is a sensation that shouldn’t be ignored. If he took similar pictures, as formal in their composition but from the perspective of a driver, they would not be one tenth as powerful.

Beyond that, if you are in London, England, I think that’s where the show is now, and it is probably going to continue touring and making more people aware of Mr. Burtynsky’s name. The catalogue for the show won some kind of award, but I’m not clear on how it is awarded, so I guess I should assume that it is legit, and not something where you toss the organizers some cash and you get a medal.

Being aware of Ed’s name is a good thing. It makes people aware of Canadian art just a little bit more. I just hope wish that he would push the envelope a little more, instead of playing it safe. He knows how to handle a camera, I’d like to see some images from him that prove that.

The International Orchid Show


I know diddly-squat about orchids, nonetheless I went to the International Orchid Show last weekend and took some pictures. They’re pretty…

Continue reading The International Orchid Show

Jean-Paul Gaultier on Flickr


I’m not going to write about the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. But if you want to see pictures, Michael Ernest Sweet just posted a set up on Flickr, and if you do a search there, you can find over 1,300 more. Definitely cheaper that way.

Déjà, La Grand Déploiement de la Collection du Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal


A short and mostly silent viseo I made on the exhibit at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Déjà, La Grand Déploiement de la Collection was the first time that the permanent collection had been exhibited in all eight galleries of the museum.

Episode 301 [11:30]


The exhibition ran from May 26 to September 4, 2011 and was curated by Josée Bélisle.