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Juliette Marzano

New exhibition in our spaces: Gilles Carle – Shared Heritage

New exhibition in our spaces: Gilles Carle – Shared Heritage

It is with pleasure that Arsenal Contemporary Montreal will be hosting Shared Heritage, an exhibition bringing together Gilles Carle’s entire body of works, between March 31st and April 13th. Through this artistic celebration, Chloé Sainte-Marie, muse and lover of the filmmaker, wants to offer the visitors a unique opportunity to dive into Carle’s universe. Real witnesses of his life, the 400 artworks that will be reunited in the exhibition will allow for a new tribute to the artist. 

Even if Gilles Carle is primarily known for his work as a movie director and for his contribution to the quebec cinema world – counting more than 35 short and long films including Les Plouffes and La vrai nature de Bernadette –, the exhibition Shared Heritage will explore another part of the creator’s production. Ghatering the whole artist’s pictural production realized between 1972 and 2006, the show will highlight the powerful necessity of the artist to create.

Gilles Carle, Sans titre, feutre lavis 17'' x 14''. Partage et Héritage, Arsenal art contemporain Montréal, 2018. ©Chloé Sainte-Marie

Gilles Carle, Sans titre, feutre lavis 17” x 14”. Partage et Héritage, Arsenal art contemporain Montréal, 2018. ©Chloé Sainte-Marie

A multidisciplinary practice

Inspired by caricature, by comic book, by erotic and satiric drawings as well as by emblematic movements of art history, the drawings and the acrylic paintings of Gilles Carle complete themselves as a real visual diary. The images painted by Carle are sometimes humorous, sometimes naive, but always sensitive and marked by intuition. 

This exhibition aims to share, once again, the artistic and symbolic heritage left by this man in Quebec society. Echoing the multidisciplinary approach of the artist, our spaces will also become the theatre of some projections and testimony, in order to reflect the indelible mark left by this filmmaker. 

The official opening of the exhibition will take place on March 31st.
Join us between 1 pm and 5 pm to discover the works in presence of Chloé Sainte-Marie.

Leonard Cohen: A Force of Nature

Leonard-Cohen-Force-Of-Nature-Jon-Rafman

Leonard Cohen: A Force of Nature


by Anna Kovler

Une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything is Montréal’s epic tribute to Leonard Cohen. The sprawling exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal shows us a man that is larger than life, loved in an immense measure, deified in all his humanity. One cannot take in the entire show except in a hurry, or with the regret of not having seen it all. It is a retrospective, an obituary, a commentary, a missed engagement, a remix, a projection of loss, and a tribute. It features more than 40 artists from around the world, including a sound-installation by Canada’s Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, projections by Jenny Holzer, and an innovative installation-video by Jon Rafman who exhibited recently at Arsenal Contemporary Montreal in 2016 and Arsenal Contemporary Toronto in 2017. The magnitude of the show equals the excess of who Cohen was, to many people and places. But at its best, it is an invitation to enter Cohen’s life and work, again or for the first time.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. The Poetry Machine, 2017. Courtesy Luhring Augustine, New York, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and Koyanagi Gallery, Tokyo. All poetry written and performed by Leonard Cohen from Book of Longing. Commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Photo: Sébastien Roy.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. The Poetry Machine, 2017. Courtesy Luhring Augustine, New York, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, and Koyanagi Gallery, Tokyo.
All poetry written and performed by Leonard Cohen from Book of Longing. Commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Photo: Sébastien Roy.

The exhibition produces experiences of Cohen at different scales of intimacy and interaction, and some works manage to take us beyond Cohen himself. There are individual works that isolate viewers, while others reconstruct Cohen in interactive form, like Cardiff and Miller’s The Poetry Machine (2017) which transforms a 1950s organ into key-based generator for Cohen’s poems, played at the whims of the audience.

Rafman’s Legendary Reality (2017) consists of tattered rows of cinema seating with a looping audio-visual work that submerges viewers in a sprawl of digitally processed land and cityscape footage. An existentially displaced voice unfolds over city traffic or through a dark tunnel, pulling together imagery sourced from found photography and video games. While the narrator’s alienation of being displaced in a technological world draws our immediate attention, Rafman’s work multiplies this alienation through a rotoscopic digital processing that gives the work a dizzying, otherworldly effect. The outcome is immersive in color and distortion, and Cohen’s cryptic phrases subtly interject in the slow, uneasy monologue, which unravels like a voice without a place.

Jon Rafman. Legendary Reality, 2017. Single-screen video installation including customized theatre seating. Courtesy the artist, Sprueth Magers, Los Angeles, and Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, Montréal. Commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Photo: Sébastien Roy

Jon Rafman. Legendary Reality, 2017. Single-screen video installation including customized theatre seating. Courtesy the artist, Sprueth Magers, Los Angeles, and Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran, Montréal. Commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Photo: Sébastien Roy.

In the end, the curation of Une brèche en toute chose is about the disappearance of Cohen as a figure and his endurance as a voice, a life force, a way of having looked at the world. Cohen is introduced massively and as a focal center, but he begins to noticeably disappear as the exhibition moves toward its end. By the end, he is present only as a mood and a few recognizable phrases in Rafman’s video of a despairing perspective without a world, or as a meditation on death and time in Clara Furry and Marc Quinn’s pairing of choreography and sculpture. There is a certain appropriateness here for someone who continually called us to think deeply about the weight of loss and the meagerness of our human offering to the world

Jenny Hozer. For Leonard Cohen, 2017. Installation View at Silo no. 5, Montréal Photo: George Fok

Jenny Hozer. For Leonard Cohen, 2017. Installation View at Silo no. 5, Montréal
Photo: George Fok.

The location is as important as the show itself. Montréal was the city that raised and formed him, and the home he always returned to. Generations will decide whom he belonged to and what he meant, but this show makes clear that the relation between Montréal and Cohen is consummated. For a short time in November, Jenny Holzer’s projections on Silo No. 5 made Cohen’s words part of the city architecture. Parc du Portugal will remain a spectral landmark of his presence there for so many years. Shows of this scale and in a memorial wake tend to invoke celebration and, in this case, an almost religious admiration. Nowhere is this more evident than in Montréal, where his face is now on a mural at the heart of the downtown corridor. But the truths that made his work powerful should also continue to be hard to hear, humbling and somber.

Leonard Cohen: Une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything is on view at Musée d’Art Contemporain until September 4, 2018. It shows 20 works by 40 artists from 10 countries. It is part of the program for Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebration.

Surprise collaboration with Art Souterrain Festival!

Surprise collaboration with Art Souterrain Festival!

Arsenal Contemporary Montreal is proud to announce a surprise collaboration with Art Souterrain Festival. As part of the 10th edition of the festival, Arsenal will be welcoming an exhibition from March 3 and April 7, and present a collaborative TD Cultural Tuesday on March 13. 

Revolving around the expression Labor Improbus, this year’s edition brings together the practices of Canadian and international artists reflecting on the theme of work.  The exhibition spaces will thus host the works of Naomi Dodds, Nelson Henricks and Stanley Février.

Nelson Henricks will be exploring the notion of work and entertainment, but also the relationship we have with time in his artwork Happy Hours ; Naomi Dodds will be engaging dialogue with the architecture of Arsenal and with the question of industrialization and progress with her work Bridge ; Stanley Février will, on his part, present Strange Fruit, a piece created specially for the festival through which the visitors will be invited to meander. 

As part of the TD Cultural Tuesday, the artist Stanley Février will invite visitors to activate his performative installation. Allegory of the social pressions exerted by the system, the artwork creates a participative space in which the visitor is invited to pick up and transform cotton.

By exploring the close links existing between work and slavery, Février tries to create encounters, reflexions and confrontations around his installation. He invites the public to intervene and to be players constructing their own history.

The exhibition curated by Festival Art Souterrain is presented until April 7 in the heart of our spaces. See our opening times. 

New Works In The Collection: Lea Cetera

Lea-Cetera-untitled,-tan-railing-2017-southard-reid

New Works In The Collection: Lea Cetera

Recently acquired in the permanent collection of Arsenal Contemporary Montreal, three pieces by American artist Lea Cetera are now presented at the entrance of our spaces. Brown Table (2015), The Handsome Serial Killer (2015) and Untitled, Tan Railing (2017) are exhibited in such a way that it creates uncertainty in the visitor’s mind. Composed like minimalist sculptures, they unite metal grids, video screen and coffee cups made of porcelain.

cetera-untitled,-tan-railing--2017-southard-reid.

Lea Cetera, Untitled,Tan Railing, 2017. © Southard Reid.

Through her temporal installations, Lea Cetera investigates the relation between object and body, private and public as well as real and virtual. Her practice draws from more popular mediums such as theatre, filmmaking and puppetry and highlights the narrative potential of objects. By combining video elements and sometimes even performative actions to her sculpture, the artist adresses constructed identities and the alienation of the body regarding the omnipresence of technology.

Lea-Cetera-untitled,-tan-railing-2017-southard-reid

Lea Cetera, Untitled,Tan Railing, 2017. © Southard Reid.

Her work also clearly holds a political and feminist message. When we approach the installation  Untitled, Tan Railing enough, for example, we are able to read this sentence on a metallic sheet presented like a commemorative plaque :

« I have this one art idea, where I only concern myself with female artists and writers, learn and read about their work, so much to the point where when someone references a male artist, I am confused and apologize for not knowing who they are talking about. »

This rather satirical phrase allows for the reflection on the place of women in the art eld and in society in general.  The artist thus questions the culture that legitimates the erasure of women and their subjectivities from a major part of human history.

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Lea Cetera lives and works in New York. She holds an MFA from Columbia University and a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art. The artist is represented by Southard Reid in London and her work has been shown in many places in the USA as well as internationally in institutions including Art in General, The Jewish Museum and Disjecta Contemporary Art Center.

Lea Cetera pieces are currently exhibited. See our opening times.

In Conversation With La Tresse

Mardi Culturel TD x Danse Danse - La Tresse - L'Encre Noire.

In Conversation With La Tresse

As part of a collaboration with Danse Danse, the contemporary dance collective LA TRESSE is in residency for three weeks in the heart of Arsenal contemporary art Montreal. It is through Anthology exhibition that they create the first steps of their new piece, L’Encre Noire.

Through this short video, Geneviève Boulet, Erin O’Loughlin, and Laura Toma discuss about their inspirations and their experience at Arsenal Contemporary Montreal.

To discover their work, don’t miss the TD Cultural Tuesday x Danse Danse – LA TRESSE, on January 23, 2018.

LAUNCH PARTY TD CULTURAL TUESDAY — UNZIP VIOLENCE

TD Cultural Tuesday - Unzip Violence - Karl Lemieux Roger, Tellier-Craig, and Alexandre St-Onge. © Romain Guilbault.

Launch Party TD Cultural Tuesday — Unzip Violence

Marking the beginning of our winter season, the launch party of the 2018 TD Cultural Tuesdays took place last week on January 9th.  For the occasion, more than a hundred of people were attracted to Arsenal Contemporary Montreal spaces to see Unzip Violence, a performance realized by Karl Lemieux, Alexandre St-Onge, and Roger Tellier-Craig.

TD Cultural Tuesday - Unzip Violence - Karl Lemieux Roger, Tellier-Craig, and Alexandre St-Onge. © Romain Guilbault.

TD Cultural Tuesday – Unzip Violence – Karl Lemieux Roger, Tellier-Craig, and Alexandre St-Onge. © Romain Guilbault.

Combining black and white projections of five 16mm projectors to musical improvisations, the artists transformed the space of the gallery in a real experimental environment.  Blending bodies and landscapes to textured visual and audio abstractions, the artists were able to captivate us into an introspective and spellbinding universe, that was in perfect harmony with the industrial character of the building.  Blurring the limits between cinema, music, and performance, Unzip Violence had firstly been realized for the international film and art festival Les Percéides in 2015.

TD Cultural Tuesday - Unzip Violence - Karl Lemieux Roger, Tellier-Craig, and Alexandre St-Onge. © Romain Guilbault.

TD Cultural Tuesday – Unzip Violence – Karl Lemieux Roger, Tellier-Craig, and Alexandre St-Onge. © Romain Guilbault.

This happening marked the launch of an event series rich in artistic expression as well as the beginning of a new collaboration with the sommelier enterprise Le vin dans les voiles, who’ll be assuring an original wine selection for every iteration.

The Imperfect Index: Scott McFarland’s Photographs at Division Montréal

Scott McFarland, Thinking About a Picture, Division Montreal, 2017.

The Imperfect Index: Scott McFarland’s Photographs at Division Montréal


by Anna Kovler

In his exhibition Thinking About a Picture at Division Montréal, Scott McFarland capitalizes on common mistakes that happen in the photographic process. Anyone who has played around with an analog camera knows to be careful if they want a “perfect” picture. Drop the camera and the backside might open, exposing the roll of film to light. Take the camera to the beach and sand will get inside the camera and appear in the developed photos as blemishes on the image. Drop the camera in water and the film will get water damage. Press the shutter button twice and the photo will be a confusion of layers. In every case, the developed picture will have the telltale signs that it was made by a particular kind of machine, at a specific moment, with the use of sensitive materials. The machine’s physicality becomes unmistakably recorded on an otherwise perfect illusion of the world.

Scott McFarland. Untitled #4 (Sky Leaks), 2016, 50" × 40", Transmounted chromogenic print displayed in LED Lightbox, Edition of 4.

Scott McFarland. Untitled #4 (Sky Leaks), 2016, 50″ × 40″, Transmounted chromogenic print displayed in LED Lightbox, Edition of 4.

McFarland works with both analog and digital processes, but his main focuses are the camera’s traditional mechanism and the values associated with it. If cleanliness, sharpness, and truthfulness are, or were once, the principles of good photography, McFarland rejects them all. Sky Leaks is a series of photographs of clouds that feature striking distortions. In one picture the clouds appear bright pink while in another are obscured by a large, mysterious column of white. To achieve these effects McFarland purposefully used partially cracked camera parts and film that had been accidentally exposed and damaged by moisture. The title references the term “light leak,” considered an equipment defect allowing light to enter the camera where it should not. Pictures with light leaks would normally be discarded since the mistakes obscure or ruin the main subject of the photographs. Yet in this series they also reveal something that a perfect photograph does not – the workings of the camera itself – which become as much the subject of the image as the clouds in the sky.

Scott McFarland. Untitled #10 (Sky Leaks), 2016, 50" × 40", Transmounted chromogenic print displayed in LED Lightbox, Edition of 4.

Scott McFarland. Untitled #10 (Sky Leaks), 2016, 50″ × 40″, Transmounted chromogenic print displayed in LED Lightbox, Edition of 4.

From its inception in the mid 19th century, the camera’s mechanical body was seen as an impartial, scientific observer that dutifully recorded a single moment in time. Paintings were different. The painter could layer as they wished, seamlessly conflating different time periods and styles in a single work. A painting was fiction, but a photograph was a fact. In the Santa Anita series, McFarland strips the camera of its claim to truthfulness. Shot at a racetrack near Los Angeles, the images consist of over a thousand negatives photographed over a four-week period and digitally layered to form a dense, busy tableau. Human bodies blend with horse bodies and with each other. Rather than recording a single moment, these photographs contain weeks of information, competing to be seen in the jungle of layers. Here the scientific aspirations of the camera as a truthful witness with a single perspective are swept aside, in favor of a multiplicity of viewpoints and subjects.

Scott McFarland. Untitled #3 (Walking Ring Study), 2017, 25 ½" x 31”, inkjet print, Edition of 4.

Scott McFarland. Untitled #3 (Walking Ring Study), 2017, 25 ½” x 31”, inkjet print, Edition of 4.

In the series Lens Cleaning, McFarland again undermines what a traditionally “perfect” photograph ought to be by adding dust to every stage of the photographic process. The artist himself appears in the series, holding a 4 x 5 camera lens. His hands appear doubled in the image, capturing movement as his fingers draw a cloth around the camera’s dusty surface in the moments prior to taking a photograph. Looking closer at each picture reveals that there is actual dust, a combination of hair and lint between the surface of the photo and the glass of the frame. There are also signs of dust in the printed images, where small pieces of hair on the negative end up looking enormous, attesting to the function of an enlarger. By including these unwanted intrusions McFarland make visible the process of photography, the signs of which are traditionally suppressed in favor of a flawless image of reality.

Scott McFarland. Lens Cleaning Rodenstock Apo-Sironar 5.6/150MM; James Perse Medallion Pigment Crewneck Jersey T-Shirt, 2017, 25" × 20", Chromogenic print and studio dust displayed in frame, Edition of 4.

Scott McFarland. Lens Cleaning Rodenstock Apo-Sironar 5.6/150MM; James Perse Medallion Pigment Crewneck Jersey T-Shirt, 2017, 25″ × 20″, Chromogenic print and studio dust displayed in frame, Edition of 4.

It is commonly said that if we can see our mistakes we can learn from them. What can we learn then from the layers of dust, water, and light damage in McFarland’s meditation on photography? McFarland’s three series suggest that there are no unmediated pictures of reality and no single truth. Cameras must be cleaned, protected, and pointed at the things we wish to capture. The resulting photographs are not merely the objects represented in them, but objects in their own right, products of a complex system that is sensitive to dust, light, water, the photographer’s viewpoint, and the values of an entire culture or field of study. Photographs are, in the end, as much imprints of the processes and biases that made them as the world they imitate.

Scott McFarland’s exhibition Thinking About A Picture in on view at Division Montréal until March 3rd, 2018.

Scott McFarland. Lens Cleaning Schneider APO-Symmar 5.6/180mm; James Perse Adobe Crewneck Jersey T-Shirt, 2017, 25" × 20", Chromogenic print and studio dust displayed in frame, Edition of 4.

Scott McFarland. Lens Cleaning Schneider APO-Symmar 5.6/180mm; James Perse Adobe Crewneck Jersey T-Shirt, 2017, 25″ × 20″, Chromogenic print and studio dust displayed in frame, Edition of 4.

Launch programming for TD Cultural Tuesdays

Launch programming for TD Cultural Tuesdays

Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal is proud to present its TD Cultural Tuesday winter programming, a series of experimental evenings that encourage a dialogue between disciplines. TD Cultural Tuesdays are ephemeral and hybrid events that generate encounters, inviting selected artists to create at the heart of our collection; where audience and art meet!

TD Cultural Tuesdays place a spotlight on several active creators from the local scene, such as Karl Lemieux, Andrea Peña, La Tresse, Ghost Love, TOMÉ PARK, Flamant and the Collectif MACHÈRE, Possible Editions.

For the price of $10, each ticket includes a free drink, while events in collaboration with Danse Danse are free.

Programming
Launch party Facebook event
Press release

Five Highlights from the 2017 Canadian Biennial

Five Highlights from the 2017 Canadian Biennial

Five Highlights from the 2017 Canadian Biennial

by Anna Kovler

For the first time since its inception in 2010, the Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada includes Indigenous, Canadian, and international artists, making it a unique chance to see local works alongside iconic, international ones. The common thread tying together the enormous variety of works (by more than 50 artists) is a desire to revise, question, and reject the Western narratives that have, and continue to dominate museums and the wider social sphere. From representing and celebrating previously marginalized groups to revealing the hidden systems of power that order contemporary life, the multitude of works in this exhibition prove that certain artistic preoccupations are indeed global in scope.

 

Brian Jungen

B. 1970, Ft. Saint John, Canada, based in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver Art Gallery - Brian Jungen, 2006.

Brian Jungen (Canadian, Dane-zaa). Isolated Depictions of the Passage of Time, 2001. Plastic food trays, television, red cedar pallet, 50 × 47 × 40 inches (127 x 119 x 102 cm). Photo: Catriona Jeffries.

A mysterious sound emanates from stacks of orange, yellow, and pink cafeteria trays. Yet walking around the stacked trays does not provide any explanation for the sound, as the stacks appear to form a solid rectangular block. Only after consulting the wall text does it become clear that there is something embedded inside this block of trays. A TV set hidden inside the stacks plays scenes from the 1963 film The Great Escape, while the cafeteria trays represent the number of Indigenous men in Canadian prisons in 2001. The film references an escape from a prison in Bath, Ontario in which stacked cafeteria trays were used to hide the escaping prisoner. By hiding the television set, Brian Jungen suggests there is a hidden reality we don’t know about – the inordinately high number of Indigenous men inside Canadian prisons.

 

Mickalene Thomas

B. 1971, Camden, New Jersey, based in New York, New York

Mickalene Thomas (American). Qusuquzah, Une Très Belle Négress #3, 2012. Rhinestones, and acrylic oil on panel, 244 x 203 x 5.5 cm, Promised gift of George Hartman and Arlene Goldman, Toronto, 2017, Photo: NGC.

Mickalene Thomas (American). Qusuquzah, Une Très Belle Négress #3, 2012. Rhinestones, and acrylic oil on panel, 244 x 203 x 5.5 cm, Promised gift of George Hartman and Arlene Goldman, Toronto, 2017, Photo: NGC.

In Mickalene Thomas’ monumental and bedazzled painting, a black woman’s face looks out boldly at the viewer. Wearing bright blue eyeshadow and a coral top, the sitter exudes an air of confidence and pride, aware of her beauty and strength, her force of presence supported by the massive size of the painting. Thomas inserts strong black female subjects into Western art history, a place where traditionally back women appeared only in the background. Here, the flower pattern behind her friend Qusuquzah evokes the work of Henri Matisse, an artist whose oeuvre distinctly lacks people of color.

 

Wolfgang Tillmans

b. 1968, Remscheid, Germany, based in London & Berlin

Wolfgang Tillmans (German). The Cock Kiss, 2002. Chromogenic print, 202.3 x 134.8 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Gift of Robert‑Jean Chénier, Montreal, 2014, Photo: NGC.

Wolfgang Tillmans (German). The Cock Kiss, 2002. Chromogenic print, 202.3 x 134.8 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Gift of Robert‑Jean Chénier, Montreal, 2014, Photo: NGC.

Wolfgang Tillman’s main preoccupations resound in this large-scale photograph. A close crop of two young men passionately kissing, the massive photograph elevates the passing moment and the lovers, by virtue of its size, to the status of billboards or altarpieces. Capturing tender, youthful desire, Tillmans presents a bold statement of support for a community that continues to experience marginalization in a predominantly homophobic world.

 

Shary Boyle and  Shuvinai Ashoona

 B. 1972 , Toronto, Canada, B. 1961, Cape Dorset

Shary Boyle (Canadian) and Shuvinai Ashoona (Inuit). Inagaddadavida, 2015. Coloured pencil, watercolour, pastel and black felt pen on wove paper, 122.8 x 218.4 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Shary Boyle / Shuvinai Ashoona, with courtesy of Dorset Fine Arts, Photo: NGC.

Shary Boyle (Canadian) and Shuvinai Ashoona (Inuit). Inagaddadavida, 2015. Coloured pencil, watercolour, pastel and black felt pen on wove paper, 122.8 x 218.4 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Shary Boyle / Shuvinai Ashoona, with courtesy of Dorset Fine Arts, Photo: NGC.

In this surreal collaborative drawing by Toronto artist Shary Boyle and Cape Dorset artist Shuvinai Ashoona, a phantasmagoria of humans and monsters unfolds. A green octopus-like creature joins a hand sprouting human heads and a pair of legs with an eyeball for genitals. A little paper boat constructed from an Inuit newspaper floats down a jet-black river towards a huge red moon. Little prayer candles float down the river while two Inuk stand on the banks of the river, taking photographs. Although the two artists completed different sections of the drawing, the complex scene coheres into a singular, disturbing nightmare. The newspaper boat and prayer candles in the river make reference to the tragic reality of suicide among northern communities.

 

Mika Rottenberg

B. 1976, Buenos Aires, Argentina, based in New York, New York

Mika Rottenberg (Argentine-American). NoNoseKnows, 2015. Sculptural installation with single channel video projection, installation dimensions variable, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Mika Rottenberg, courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York and Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris, Photo: Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris.

Mika Rottenberg (Argentine-American). NoNoseKnows, 2015. Sculptural installation with single channel video projection, installation dimensions variable, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Mika Rottenberg, courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York and Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris, Photo: Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris.

Mike Rottenberg’s installation and video centre on the pearl industry in China. Sacks of rejected “imperfect” pearls lie on the floor of a strange small room with a tile floor and low ceilings, the same room that appears in the video playing nearby. The video consists of parallel plot lines, one of real footage of Chinese women working at a pearl factory, and a second of a Caucasian woman with a magical nose whose “desk” job entails sniffing flowers and sneezing out plates of food. Both the real work environment and the staged, fantastical one are awful places to work, each for its own reasons. In China, the women’s work is wet, dirty, and repetitive, while the other woman’s work is equally repetitive and leaves her with an elongated, irritated red nose. With humor and absurdity, Rottenberg reflects on the oppressive conditions of labor that are required for the production of mundane consumer objects.

Fragments and Tapestries: Myriam Dion at Division Montréal

Myriam Dion, A Syrian from Aleppo with his child, National Post, Saturday december 17, 2017, 21 ¾" × 70", Newspaper and collage cut with exacto knife . © Richard-Max Tremblay

Fragments and Tapestries: Myriam Dion at Division Montréal


by Anna Kovler

The news comes in fragments. You scroll through social media. A headline announcing a shooting or mass displacement is followed by photos of a friend’s babies. There are invites to concerts, events, art openings. The radio reports the world’s news in two-minute sound bites. Newspapers left on the subway are moved from seat to seat, examined quickly by commuters between stops before settling on the floor in torn and trampled heaps. Photographs of war and disasters are copied on thin paper, shared, and quickly forgotten as the tidal wave of imagery rolls forward.

Detail. Myriam Dion, Lost on the border, International New York Times, Thursday August 27, 2017, 22" × 68", Newspaper and collage cut with exacto knife. © Richard-Max Tremblay

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Myriam Dion cuts into newspapers for her collages, transforming them from disposable objects into intricate lace-work. For her current show at Division Gallery, she utilizes recent coverage of the war in Syria from major newspapers. Using an X-Acto knife, she cuts thousands of tiny teardrop holes into several sheets of the same newspaper page, layering the pages to create a mosaic, patterned design. These fragmented images show men, women, and children standing in crowds, packed on lifeboats, holding help signs. The resulting effect turns commonplace newspapers into long, horizontal tapestries, rich in diamond and triangle shapes common with Syrian prayer rugs. Along the edges, the tapestry appears to be fraying.

Myriam Dion. Lost on the border, international New York Times, Thursday August, 27, 2017. 22” x 68”. Newspaper and collage cut with X-Acto knife. © Richard-Max Tremblay

Commenting on the disposable nature of news images, the loss of cultural objects as a result of war, and the actions of companies like IKEA who is currently planning to sell a line of rugs made by Syrian refugees, Dion’s newspaper collages act as both an archive and a reminder. Her intervention makes images of war more solid, but also harder to recognize, highlighting the privilege of being far away from conflict zones, and revealing our own participation as consumers of fast, disposable news.

Myriam Dion’s exhibition “Fragments” is on view at Division Gallery in Montréal from September 21 to November 11, 2017.