Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Live from Montreal "En Arvil" Quebec's fibre celebration

Almost a month to the day after my visit to Fiber Philadelphia I am on another Mega Bus destine for Montreal and the opening of their month long province wide celebration of textiles. I have been here four, days, have been to three openings and seen eight exhibitions. (Four of which were not part of the festival line up but easily fall in with textile themes as well as actual textiles)
Concordia University student piece "Hobby Horse 1" by  Emily Kathleen McIntyre, Digitally printed silk organza, wood, glitter, double-faced satin ribbon
As with most multi venue events you will run into student work, and in the past year I have seen student work from the Baltic countries, Philadelphia's many textile classrooms, Kooteny School of the Arts (and Crafts) in Nelson British Columbia and now Montreal and if I go back another six months you can thrown in several more America schools and almost all of Canada. I do make it a point; students are a litmus test for fibre health so to speak. The prognosis is complex, riddled with regional differences and institutional stances generating a displaced population of would be "something-s" Makers: yes maybe? Artist: yes no definitely Maybe "it is art, isn't". The indecision is just as much age as influence, trying to fit in and bucking the status quo. It is the lament of the Gen Xers being relived by their younger siblings and looking at opposites of the age spectrum, their children. (almost) At this juncture I feel like providing some visual evidence since the next opening isn't until Wednesday night. Let me take you through a sampling of pieces using the dress as subject: and as object. Be it wearable, hang-able (a wall piece), installation or concept.

The Dress by Eva Muston, 2010 tapestry Tartu  Art College Estonia, part of  The International Textile Students’ Exhibition STATE OF EXCEPTION, organized by the Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas Faculty of Art
Chantal Traub: regional perspectives:
Silk and Various fabrics, silk screened and painted

ACAD University Class of 2011
"What you Take off isn't always gone"2012  Sandra Chirico, Silicone, Forton moulds, and Video, Concordia fibre program.
Sugar Childhood by Gertuda Zillute, 2011,VAA Kaunas Campus, part of  The International Textile Students’ Exhibition STATE OF EXCEPTION, organized by the Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas Faculty of Art
Seathra Bell ACAD University 2011 Birdcage dress 2011, Menho Wool, silk, metal.

Fabrication Lauren Osmond, Concordia University 2012,  fermented tea bags, ivory buttons on light table (with video of the garment being worn by dancer Kim Flurry Bertrand
Diana Perez , Concordia, " Lloror, Sentir, Vivir -Cry Feel Live" wire, cotton and polyester fabric Chains Plastic Beads thread, dye

At the opening of the student show By Hook or By Crock, I asked Sandra Chirico maker of the silicone dress if she had heard of Eva Hesse or "The Meat Dress" ( I was referring to "Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic" (1987) by Canadian Jana Sterbak not the one Lady Gaga wore) she told me Eva Hesse sounded familiar. Granted Silicone isn't latex but for me it was a given that this piece even with its title "What you Take off isn't always gone" was referencing an entire genre with a large feminist context. Even the photographic and performance work of Martha Wilson came to mind. Give that Concordia students had the amazing opportunity to see Wilson's work last year at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery I. You might want to throw Karen Finley into the mix and her Chocolate smeared body that cause such a scandal in the early 1980s and think of this pieces with its accompanying video with in it fits and comes out even if the maker doesn't know any of these other pioneering feminist artist. I was a bit interested by this total lack interest in my question. Granted it was the opening and she had just been explaining her work to her parents. You might think it is unfair of me to bring this up, but one of the things about openings that young makers need to realize is every stranger has possibilities. Its great to party but dealers curators and collectors or heaven forbid "bloggers" may be lurking in the shadows and you need to be able to provide and intelligent sound bite. 
Diana Perez , Concordia, " Lloror, Sentir, Vivir -Cry Feel Live" wire, cotton and polyester fabric Chains Plastic Beads thread, dye

The next day while talking with one of the instructors from Concordia about obvious references and students awareness of if not textile history (Hessa and meat dress are recent history) then at least what is happening else where. She commented that they seem to be very insular and have no interest in what is happening outside the walls of Concordia. Considering Diana Perez's “Lloror, Sentir, Vivir -Cry Feel Live" direct riff on Jean Paul Gaultier corset come to life as a party girl. I saw The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this past September a student or two must have stumbled upon it and got the class mates to go and look I would hope. I overwhelmed but determined to see the work rather then the elaborated 'decor" of it all. One of the things that has fascinated me (and thousands others no doubt) are his corset that photograph well and I was amazed by the number of years the corset was part of his vocabulary and how there was a twenty years between the next innovation or refinement to the making of these objects. Diana Perez's is at that point now. The finish may be a bit rough but impact and gesture of both confinement and support with all its social political intransigence are there. I want to see this piece displayed to its best advantage, which it wasn't. I won't say it was a student show there for the bad install, bad lighting and general haphazardness of the show should be excused. It shouldn't, this show have been presented just as well as the other student show "Out Of Place" at the Yellow Fish Gallery.
Geodev#1, by Sophie Jaillet, 2012 wax, beads, leather felt and polyurethane foam. at Yellow Fish Gallery
"Out of Place" featuring the work of Sabrina Dufour, Florence Boivin, Sophie Jaillet and Stéphanie Coleman had some intriguing things and some disappointing things. I seem to be drawn to the things I am disappointed with, which may seem odd or just contrary. There is a Toile de Jou, in this show, and with all Toile old or contemporary you can anticipate what subtle frolics are happening in there bucolic settings. Renée Green's "Mise-en-Scène: Commemorative Toile" easily comes to mind since I was just at the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia where created this work. I saw that work in 1997 at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto and its gentile drawing room staging of upholstered furniture, wallpaper and drapery the harshness of its imagery and "highly-charged yet surprisingly subtle commentary on social class, race, and aestheticism,"  This piece installed in such a way as to look like a scarp of wall paper remain on a wall that has been striped this bring to mind the subversive Toile wall coverings the Scottish design firm "Timorous Beasties" which have images of boys peeing behind brushes near a bench were a couple is making out, to work with Toile as a concept could have had a more surprising result then this piece has.

Stéphanie Coleman Toile de Jou

Installation shot from Yellow Fish Gallery east elevation Sabria Dufour's work is the black piece in the back corner,  knitted sack by Florence Boivin 
looking west the knitted sacks are "Lift Me If You Can," Florence Boivin
detail of Sky #2 by Sophia Jaillet, thread on printed polyester
This a close up of In the Corner of My Head by Sabrina Dufour, 2012 papier et panneau secge / folded paper
 Since the two Concordia Student exhibitions are only up for a limited time and they are having their crits this week I felt like chiming in on a few things, and encourage everyone to see where they are now so a few years from now.. who knows? I have to say that I keep running into misidentified techniques such as burn out labeled Devore' so when I run into actual  Devore' imagine my disappointment when it is ripped to shreds and used in an vague installation with other really nice printed textiles that have also been thrown into the heap. I will end hear with a few heaps I have seen this year.

Live Wire, Selina Doroshenko, mixed media,

Barbara Worden ACAD University, Quantum Soup, 2011, Weaving: wool, bamboo
Part of Master program art project exhibited at “Kaunas biennial textile 11” called “Artificial River”
Vilnius Art Academy’s Master student, Kristijonas Bakas, Vilnius2011
See piles of stuff can work if you bring them together well. and speaking of well put together I had a sneak preview of "Traverser sans la voir" embroidery by Chistine Peyret at Centre des textiles contemporains de Montréal / TRAMES la galerie. it opens Wednesday, with a talk from the maker at 4 pm and the opening reception at 5pm. if you are in Montreal you must see this show. Its incredibility rich imagery and the stories they evoke is some breath taking, this is one of the best solo exhibitions I have seen, to say this stitcher is a master is to under appreciate her work. So Students go and see where textile work can take you even if your instructors won't hold your hands on the way .

 Montreal April 3 2012

To see more Images and get more information what is happening during this first week of "en avril" see my facebook album En avril.in Montreal
Links to Makers referenced in this blog

Eva Hessa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Hesse

meat dress according to wikipedia Vanitas:_Flesh_Dress_for_an_Albino_Anorecti

MARTHA WILSON: STAGING THE SELF at Lenard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery Concordia University

Karen Finley http://karenfinley.com/

Renee Green/ Fabric Workshop

"Timorous Beasties" http://www.timorousbeasties.com/

 Kristijonas Bakas  The Back Page: “Artificial River” Master program art project by Kristijonas Bakas


Judy Martin said...


I really enjoyed your take on the student work. I cannot believe that a Concordia student did not know Eva Hesse's work.

The rest of your article was also really interesting and gives a good flavour to what's up in Montreal.

best wishes

Anonymous said...

I would have like to have heard about the other artists in the Concordia exhibition instead of concentrating on one student who was obviously preoccupied during an General Public vernissage. Perhaps individual interviews with the artists would make more sense in a media related setting. Don't you think?
As a Fashion Designer myself, I never do interviews DURING a fashion show or exhibit. I always have a separate time frame for bloggers & media so I am prepared for their questions & can focus my attention on them.

Joe Lewis said...

Anonymous, I though "What you Take off isn't always gone" by Sandra Chirico deserved to be seen in a larger context then she seemed to be aware of so I pointed it out. You do make an interesting point anonymously. given the difference between a fashion show where the general public are sitting separate from the runway as is the media unless granted access to the back stage area where the designers is overseeing the presentation before the garment walks onto the runway an art opening is the place, the front lines so to speak where the maker has to be able to connect with the unknown public instantaneously, whoever the public may be. I will also point out that if the work hadn't been of interest to me I would not have had the conversion with the maker. The other works that interested me in one way or another I mentioned. Textile work is seldom considered in main stream media or the art press and textile history which is a deeper and broader field than the basics taught in programs and is an exciting field.