Posted Mar 17, 2010 in Arts | 0 Comments

The Works Schmidt, Bernatchez, Martineau, York

My own interests are primarily in sculpture and I often write about that, so this month I want to focus on something different. This whole train of thought started last week when I saw a Kevin Schmidt video called Wild Signals at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery in Montreal. I find it takes a certain frame of mind to enjoy video pieces in a gallery setting. You have to be prepared to sit and watch for a while, and often you can walk in on the middle of a piece and not be too sure what’s going on. Despite being one static shot for almost 10 minutes, the Schmidt piece really grabbed me. Part of a show that is Arctic themed, Schmidt places a full stage set-up (fog machine, amps, and racks with synchronized lights) in the middle of a frozen northern landscape.

As the fog starts rolling in, the whole set-up starts bending in with the misty landscape. The soundtrack and the brightly coloured flashing lights refer to the mother ship arrival scene from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The combination of science fiction, staging, and the arctic landscape create a retro-futuristic aurora borealis.

This video work brought to mind another video by Patrick Bernatchez that I returned to three times during La Triennale d’art Quebecois in 2008.  Chrysalide- Empereur revolves around a car in an underground parking lot slowly filling with water.

Ronald McDonald, unfazed, sits at the wheel and smokes a cigarette, until the car is full. Simple and dramatic, the rising soundtrack gives me goosebumps. This, and other films by Bernatchez can be seen at his website.

On display right now at the Montreal Contemporary Art Museum,  Luanne Martineau mixes drawing and sculpture by sewing and constructing forms out of paper, and covering them in a shiny layer of graphite.

It’s always enjoyable when an artist makes you see a common medium in a new light.

This also happened when I learned of the work of artist Susan York. She also uses the common drawing medium graphite, but in large blocks and sheets. At times, she has even created installations of whole rooms covered in graphite containing large blocks of the stuff, mixing inside and outside, drawing and sculpture (yeah, I’m back to that again…).

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