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Juliette Marzano

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.