Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 2011 (part 2)


Exhibition Reviews




Part 2 of my coverage of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 2011 takes me to the exhibitions at galleries and museums across the city. Just like in part 1, this is not a complete list of works exhibited. (more)

Roni Horn showed Some Thames, a large set of images of the surface of the River Thames. I had been very eager to see this particular show, and I ended up being a bit underwhelmed - for reasons that I’m not quite sure of. One’s expectations can really get in the way of experiencing art. I think what might have happened is that I expected to see something else, even though I’m not really sure what that something else actually is. I suppose I could explain this all away using some elaborate art-speak writing; but I personally prefer to stay in this state of confusion since it makes me think.

Another exhibition I had been looking forward to was Hans-Peter Feldmann’s: “For 100 Jahre [100 Years] (2001), Hans-Peter Feldmann took one black-and-white photograph per year of his parents, friends, and acquaintances in order to reconstruct the length of a human life, situate himself in a chronology, and address life and death.” This seemed like an obvious show, but once you started to walk along these photographs inevitably you started to reminisce and compare. Of course, I had to find the portrait corresponding to my own age, and of course, I had to look what the immediate future would hold for me. Very intriguing.

I had not been familiar with Cristina Nuñez’s work before. In the description of her work in the program I had found “In 1988, in an attempt to overcome personal problems, Cristina Nuñez began to take self-portraits in private.” I have always been quite skeptical of the idea that photography can be therapy - to simplify things a little - but on the wall, the selection of photography (taken from Someone to Love) worked very well.

Raymonde April presented a selection of work from her archives, created for Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, an idea I have lately been fascinated with: If all of the work in one’s archives has a certain meaning (a project comes with a statement, outlining its purpose etc.), can one go back and create something else/different from all of this? This particular show presented just that, which I found extremely inspiring.

Just before traveling to Montréal I had conducted an interview with Michael Jones, Google’s Chief Technology Advocate, for an upcoming edition of FOAM Magazine. One of the topics that had come up was that possibly in the future people would record their own lives constantly using video cameras. Turns out there are already artists doing such work, namely here Claire Savoie. Her videos were presented as videos and as a complex and large grid of still images. The latter I thought was quite spectacular, with its presentation of essentially part of a life, carefully edited and selected but at the same time seemingly random.

Luis Jacob also presented archival work, albeit using other people’s images. This show was as “meta” as you could get about seeing and photography, looking at how we see things, how photographers see things, how photographers see us seeing things etc. Interestingly enough, the selection included a bunch of very well-known images by photographers such as Thomas Struth. I remember one of Struth’s images from an art museum very smartly presented along with other photographs looking at the act of seeing and of displaying art. I had been very familiar with Struth’s work, but Jacob’s very careful recontextualisation of the images opened up a different reading for me.

(to be continued: part 3)

(all installation shots by JMC)