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OPTICA Fonds (Concordia University Archives)

Guidebooks to help in consulting the archives

Electronic Reproduction Fees

Gabor Szilasi
From January 16th 2010 to February 20th 2010
Portraits au Polaroid

Curator : Marie-Josée Lafortune

In 1974, Gabor Szilasi began producing a series of portraits on Polaroid film, a project he pursued until 2002. Rarely shown and never printed in their entirety, these images assemble close, intimist shots, mainly of women, family members, and fellow artists and photographers. For this exhibition, OPTICA has commissioned the artist for fifteen limited edition (3/3) prints, several of them as yet unpublished.

The series can be divided into two periods, according to the film used: the first portraits were captured onto Polaroid 105 film (renamed 665 in 1977), employed by the artist until 1988; as of 1989, Szilasi opted for Polaroid 55. With the latter, one is immediately engaged by the frontal gaze. In contrast to those taken of rural Quebec in the 1970s, these photos are laden with more psychological import.

Indeed, the composition follows the linear paths of the natural light as it bathes and sculpts his subjects’ faces. Using a small depth of field, Szilasi isolates the subject within the environment. The use of a 4x5 view camera brings clarity to details; rather than extend the realism, however, the artist accentuates the blurred focus.

Thus, while some images are marked by high contrast, others have a more romantic flavour, like the portrait of Doreen Lindsay, Westmount (December 1989), conjuring photographic images of the Victorian era, especially those of Julia Margaret Cameron. Some prints from the first series—those of Rafael Bendahan, Montreal (1977), and of the artist’s father, Sándor Szilasi, Montreal (1977)—draw instead from the archetypal aesthetic of ID photos.

Contrary to the popular association of the Polaroid with the culture of instant snapshots, Szilasi produces his portraits in the studio tradition, where the 4x5 camera significantly slows down the process. And Polaroid’s independent “pack” film—comprising both the negative and the positive—allows him to hand a print over to the subject before proceeding with the final development of the image. The subject’s active involvement in the portrait is a crucial element in Szilasi’s process, recalling the practice of other portrait artists, such as David Octavius Hill (1802-1870), August Sander’s “assisted portraits” (1876-1964), or the “portrait documents” of Walker Evans (1903-1975).

We needn’t emphasize a direct relationship between these works and this series of Polaroid portraits, but one must nonetheless admit that a methodology is at work that, while characteristic of Szilasi’s individual practice, also enmeshes it within a history, constructing the subject in relation to this tradition.
- Marie-Josée Lafortune

Gabor Szilasi’s profoundly humanist work has undeniable significance in the history of contemporary Canadian photography. Born in Budapest in 1928, he has captured the social transformations in Quebec and Hungary from the 1950s to the present. He also influenced a whole generation of photographers through his teaching. Winner of the 2009 Prix Paul-Émile-Borduas, Szilasi is considered a pioneer of documentary social photography in Quebec. His work is included in innumerable collections in Canada and in Europe. He is represented by art45 gallery in Montreal.

The artist wishes to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for its support, as well as Michael Flomen.

Jaana Kokko
From January 16th 2010 to February 20th 2010
Life Must Be Alive

Jaana Kokko has developed a body of video work in which the spatial configuration shapes the totality of being. Two videos are presented in the gallery: Modern Times (Transcription) (1982/2006) and The Anarch (2008)—drawn from the series "Who am I, What am I, Why am I"—, both of which testify to a desire for interrogating the value of the document as representation of reality and as element of fiction. Speech, here, carries a story, knowledge and memory; in an examination of power relationships, the artist brings it to the screen through individual and familial interviews.

Modern Times (Transcription) (1982/2006) is constructed around an interview conducted by the artist and her friend—when they were both 10 years old—on the day-to-day activities of a woman and a man. Kokko takes up this old recording and turns it into the soundtrack for a new filmic structure, thus bringing two parallel worlds together. On the screen, images shot in 2006: in an empty space, a young woman cleans a display cabinet and places a tape-recorder. Subtitles appear, drawn from the 1982 interview: a synchronized transcription of the dialogue (translated into English) and ambient sounds. This temporal divergence, the spareness of the setting, and the disembodied nature of the soundtrack heightens the fictionality of the document, mirroring the discrepancy between the reality of the interviewed protagonists and what they imagined they would become.

In The Anarch (2008), Kokko attempts to redefine the concept of anarchy in opposition to the widespread misconception that associates it with nihilism, chaos, and terrorism. She asks Veikko Leväaho (1924-2009) to relate his experience—he had been court-martialled during the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union (1941-1944)—and to explain his conception of a wholly just, ideal society.
- Geneviève Bédard + Marie-Josée Lafortune

Finnish artist Jaana Kokko holds an M.A. from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki (2002) and M.Sc. in economics from the Helsinki School of Economics (1999). She has exhibited and has taken part in many video festivals in Finland, Russia, and Europe.

The artist wishes to thank the Arts Council of Finland for its support.

OPTICA, un projet d'art contemporain, no.1 (détail)_Gabor Szilasi, Irina Krauss, Montréal, 1993. ©2009. Portraits au Polaroid.

Anne-Lise Seusse, Gabor Szilasi
January 16th 2010
Projets d'artistes originaux distribués sous forme d'affiches gratuites

*Points of distribution are now online!*

As of January 2010, original artist projects related to OPTICA’s programming and archives are freely distributed as posters at the gallery, as well as in different libraries, bookstores, centres, galleries and museums. The first posters highlight the work Gabor Szilasi and Anne-Lise Seusse. A list of points of distribution is now available on our website. OPTICA invites you then on a cultural circuit throughout the city : keep an eye out, look around, and start a collection!

See below for locations addresses as of March 26th, 2010. It is often updated to include all points of distribution.

Parisian Laundry Librairie CCA Galerie Leonard & Bina Ellen Fonderie Darling Fofa Galerie de la faculté des beaux arts, Univerisité Concordia Artexte Optica Médiathèque du Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal Galerie de l’UQAM Cinémathèque québécoise MAI Oboro Librairie Le port de tête Centre Clark Délégation générale du Québec à Paris art3

1 Parisian Laundry, 3550 Saint-Antoine West
2 CCA_librairie/bookstore, 1920 Baile Street
3 Fofa Gallery, 1515 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest
4 Galerie Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, 1400 blvd de Maisonneuve West
5 Darling Foundry, 745 Ottawa Street
6 Artexte,460 Sainte-Catherine West, # 508
7 Optica, 372 Sainte-Catherine West, # 508
8 Médiathèque du Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 185 Sainte-Catherine West
9 Galerie de l’UQAM, Université du Québec à Montréal, Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, 1400 Berri Street
10 Cinémathèque québécoise, 335 blvd de Maisonneuve East
11 MAI, Montréal Arts Interculturels, 3680 Jeanne-Mance Street
12 Oboro, 4001 Berri, #301
13 Librairie Le port de tête, 262 Mont-Royal East
14 Centre Clark, 5455 avenue De Gaspé, #114

15 Délégation générale du Québec à Paris, 66 rue Pergolèse, Paris, France
16 Librairie du Québec, 30 rue Gay Lussac, Paris, France

FRANCE, Valence
17 art3 art contemporain, 8 rue Sabaterie, Valence, France


Dates limites ⎟ Deadlines
From February 28th 2010 to March 1st 2010
28 février : appel à projets (programmation 2011)
1er mars : appel à candidatures (résidence)

For more information, please click on the following links for our annual call for projects, as well as our research residency program (Montreal - Valence, France). Thank you!

Diane Landry
From March 13th 2010 to April 17th 2010
Chevalier de la résignation infinie

Experience is one of the motifs of Diane Landry’s practice, a way of understanding , exploring the world in a intuitive way in her relation to the object and time. A multidisciplinary artist working in performance, she creates a kinetic universe from ordinary objects whose main purpose, meaning, and attributed values she diverts and re-utilizes, ultimately aiming to change the emotional memories tied to their recognition. Whether automated or fixed, the body in performance serves as a yardstick for the study of time and movement, material that is then taken up in archetypal form in her installations.

In the gallery, large luminous wheels made of plastic bottles and containers of sand revolve in the space, transforming it into a Luna Park. The alternating shadows and light of their revolutions allude to the passage of time, the alternation of day and night. The installation Knight of Infinite Resignation (2009), conceived during a residency at L’Oeil de Poisson in Quebec City, makes a disquieting allusion to the performance L’Imperméable, presented at Mois Multi the same year, where Landry, suspended and fixed upon a motorized structure, pivots on an axis and becomes a human hourglass. Though these works are separate, it’s hard not to think of them as a sequence, allowing us to appreciate the contribution of her performance as "source" material for her perceptual practice.

The fascination with animated surfaces—an archaeology of the image characteristic of the cinematographer—informs the exhibition, the mesmerizing effect of the projected shadows in particular. Additionally, Landry pursues her investigation of the everyday in Juggling (2009), an animation-performance-video in which the artist appears in silhouette before a window. Every minute for twenty-four hours, a picture is taken to document the pose. The fixed images are then animated, time condensed, and experience reconstructed in staccato motion. The speed of the projection is one of a silent film (16 images/second), and Landry complicates our rapport with the image by introducing objects that she moves while remaining apparently motionless. A performance indeed.
- Marie-Josée Lafortune

An exhibition strongly recommended by Nicolas Mavrikakis ("Renouveau hivernal", Voir, January 14th, 2010) and Jérôme Delgado ("Arts visuels - Entre les murs des galeries", Le Devoir, January 16th, 2010)!

Chevalier de la résignation infinie & Ce qui part au lavage    DVD
   Knight of Infinite Resignation & What Comes Out in the Wash
   Essays by Alison Syme

   Distribution :
   L’Œil de Poisson
   28 pages booklet with color photos
   Video ntsc ~ 45 min
   5 installations & 3 performances 2008-2009
   extra : 2 interviews and technical documentation on the performance l’Imperméable.
   ISBN 978-2-9803525-9-1

"There are 237 bottles here, the liquid contents of which would apparently fill a bath—no more. The short-sightedness of human management of natural resources is made pitifully obvious by the work’s evocation of cosmic time, in comparison with which the human lifespan and even the existence of the species seem simply irrelevant. And there is something terrifying about this assemblage, which is so cold and serene, so unperturbed by the viewer’s presence."
- Alison Syme

This booklet accompanies the exhibition Knight of Infinite Resignation, a project created by Diane Landry, commissioned by l´Œil de Poisson with funding from the Canada Council for Arts. The exhibition was presented for the first time in Québec City from September 11 to October 18, 2009.

Diane Landry lives and works in Quebec City. Honoured with many prizes and awards, she has exhibited and participated in residencies at venues throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Publications have appeared dealing with her work and, in 2009, the Musée d’art de Joliette organized her first retrospective. She is represented by the Solway Jones gallery in Los Angeles.

Charron, Marie-Ève, «Roues égrenant le temps», Le Devoir, 20-21 mars 2010, p.E7.

Kartz Ucci
From March 13th 2010 to April 17th 2010
368 songs with the word sad in the title mixed into one song

Kartz Ucci’s multidisciplinary practice is informed by language theory and philosophy. With an unapologetic inclination for the romanticism, she reveals that her works and their subjects are often inspired and (re)defined according to her emotional response to different spaces. Especially concerned with notions of reproducibility and reappropriation, she endeavours to reinterpret existing texts, musical pieces, and films by adopting various conceptual strategies, which then give direction to the form and content of her productions.

368 songs with the word sad in the title mixed into one song was produced by collecting the number of songs explicitly mentioned in the title: downloaded off the Internet by searching for the key-word "sad" in various GNUtella (1) engines, the collected MP3 files were then combined in an audio-editing program to compose a new soundtrack that was transferred to vinyl. Ucci leaves things up to the suggestive power of the senses and proposes a concrete experience of the paradox intrinsic to the quest for happiness as the end of human action: a fundamental philosophical contradiction between wishing for happiness and being at a loss for the means of reaching it or for knowing what it is.

The gallery installation includes two devices articulated around the audio work: a massive panel covered by a layer of lead—its monochrome surface investing the space while improving its acoustics—, and a mural listing of the song titles arranged in an iridescent spiral. This recurring natural symbol (a formal reminder of the LP and turntable) may be as suggestive of the infinite and cosmological as of dizzying confusion, or indeed of any expansive movement—creative spiral or dextrorotation, clockwise, according to Greek mythology—or a contracting one—the counter, so-called destructive spiral or levorotation. Here, an invisible centrifugal force dissipates the visual obstruction, hearkening back to the din that is itself slowly dissipating. . . Like that sensory (over-)stimulation that gradually gives way to harmonious simplicity, happiness may simply be a direction, a whole rather than a summation (2).
- Geneviève Bédard

(1) Gnutella is a decentralized peer-to-peer file sharing network.
(2) Paul Ricoeur

After brief tenures at the universities of York, McMaster, and Ryerson, Kartz Ucci, originally from Ontario, has been teaching at the University of Oregon since 2004. Her work circulates widely in the Americas, in Europe, and in Asia.

Stéphane Gilot
From May 8th 2010 to June 12th 2010
La cité performative

Stéphane Gilot has been redefining our relationship to space since 2001. His hybrid constructions and imaginary locales invite us to take part in an array of situations. Dubbed plans d’évasions (loosely, “escape plans” or “plans for escapsim”), these constructions are “model worlds,” a set of autonomous units that contribute to the construction of the “performative city,” an on-going and evolving project. The presentation of these structures—drawings, models, shelters, video components—betray a marked interest in the social organization of cities, in our behavioural habits, and in a reconsidered anthropology of habitat. Now, in a curatorial synthesis of these environments, Gilot actualizes the “model worlds,” adding new neighbourhoods, and casting a reflexive gaze both on the process itself and on the authorial relationships and relationships of authority engaged with those who are called upon to inhabit the city.

Broadcast on video, the participants’ ability (or inability) to live together lays bare the imperfections of an (overcharged) modernity perceived as a living spectacle: though its playfulness is fully developed, it convincingly illustrates the frantic virtualization of a world where the accessibility and speed of information gives one the feeling of travelling the universe while standing still (an impression suggested by the rapport between exhibition space and city space). “The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space,” Michel Foucault said in 1967. “We are in the epoch of simultaneity, [. . .] of juxtaposition, [. . .] of the near and the far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed [. . . .] our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein.”

Such borderline areas articulating the singularity and plurality of worlds are very present in the performative city. Moreover, this observation recalls Foucault’s concept of heterotopia, the notion of a space of non-space, “[. . .] capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible.” Skillfully conjuring these intertwined spaces—like those experimented with in theatre, for instance—, Gilot takes action and assembles various utopian spaces into a single work where they serve as interfaces between reality and fiction, inverting our rapport with the real and imagination while simultaneously compelling us to recognize and trust their functionality in the organization of the city.
- Marie-Josée Lafortune

1 Michel Foucault, «Dits et écrits 1984 , Des espaces autres (conférence au Cercle d'études architecturales, 14 mars 1967)», in Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, no. 5, octobre 1984, pp. 46-49. (Translation by Jay Miskowiec, "foucault.info").
2 Ibid, p.46

Stéphane Gilot would like to thank le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec as well as Frédéric Lavoie, the inhabitants of the performative city – Anne Bérubé, Caroline Boileau, Belinda Campbell, Caroline Dubois, Rachel Echenberg, Mathieu Latulippe, François Morelli, Alisha Piercy, Victoria Stanton, Sylvie Tourangeau et Emma Waltraud Howes.

Addition financial support from Optica enabled the realisation of this premier synthesis presentation of The Performative City.

An artist to look out for in 2010 : "Arts visuels - Entre les murs des galeries" (Jérôme Delgado, Le Devoir, January 16th, 2010).

«The Performative City» is the subject of an article by Jérôme Delgado «Cités de demain, cités d'aujourd'hui» (Le Devoir, May 22-23 2010.)

«The Performative City» is briefly mentioned in an article by Jérôme Delgado «Un monstre aux multiples têtes» (Le Devoir, September 1-2 2012.)

Originally from Belgium, Stéphane Gilot has been living and working in Montreal since 1996. His performative spaces include the following presentations of “model-worlds”:
Jeu vidéo – vitrine, UQÀM, Montréal (2004), Jeu vidéo – monde 1, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto (2005), Centre Oboro, Montréal (2006), Jeu vidéo – monde 2, Transmediale 06, Berlin (2006), Centre Cinéplastique, Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, Montréal (2006), Cineplastic Station, Paul Petro Contemporary Art, Toronto (2007), Cineplastic Station 2, Galerie F. Desimpel, Bruxelles (2007),Cineplastic Center 2, Salvaging Utopia, Truck Gallery, Calgary (2007), Hurricane Building, Vowles Building, Flux Gallery, New York (2007), Cineplastic Campus, Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga (2008).

Delgado, Jérôme, «Cités de demain, cités d'aujourd'hui», Le Devoir, 22-23 mai 2010, p.E7.
«Portfolios: Stéphane Gilot», Esse, arts + opinions, automne 2010, no.70, p.55.

Sylvia Winkler, Stephan Köperl
From May 8th 2010 to June 12th 2010

Sylvia Winkler and Stephan Köperl’s interventions in public spaces offer critical perspectives on urban planning in the cities they visit. They produce video commentaries about them, composing socially engaged songs that playfully critique real estate projects and their implementation, deconstructing promoters’ messages, and alerting us to the processes of uniformity and appropriation at work in citizen space. Jin Bi Lu (1997), 3rd Space (2007), and Make No $mall Plans (2008) are videos that testify to the transformations of urban life in the cities of Kunming and Chengdu, in China, and in Montreal’s Griffintown district.

Jin Bi Lu (1997) deals with the exodus of once well-off families from the old neighbourhoods of Kunming, in southern China. The subsequent demolition of the historic, but run-down, vacated buildings reflects the region’s deteriorating economy and social fabric. Wandering through the ruins on a tricycle, Köperl sings “Gold-Jade-Avenue” (Jin Bi Lu), to the tune of a song that was popular at the time.

3rd Space (2007) is the commercial name given to one of the many real estate projects under way in downtown Chengdu. Wanting to validate the project on solid intellectual grounds, the promotional brochure cites the writings of Virginia Woolf and conjures the social and urban philosophy of Jürgen Habermas and Ray Oldenburg. Adopting the tone of a broadcast announcer, Winkler recites the entire text at three different locations in the area.

Make No $mall Plans (2008) was produced after public demonstrations against development plans in the Griffintown neighbourhood. Impressed by the scope of the debate, Winkler and Köperl made the controversial question an integral part of their work during an international Canada Council of the Arts residency at the Darling Foundry. Set to the tune of a Deep Purple song released when Griffintown began to transform into its current state, the words they sing as a duet comment on the situation and show their support for the activists; the title and refrain, however, refer to the real estate company’s mission statement.
- Geneviève Bédard + Marie-Josée Lafortune

Works presented in the gallery
Jin Bi Lu, People’s Republic of China, 1997, 7 min.
3rd Space, People’s Republic of China, 2007, 2 min.
Make No $mall Plans, Montreal, 2008, 5 min. 30 sec.

«Urbang» is the subject of an article by Jérôme Delgado, («Cités de demain, cités d'aujourd'hui», Le Devoir, May 22th-23th 2010.)

Sylvia Winkler and Stephan Köperl have formed and an artist duo since 1997. Graduates of the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts, their site-specific urban interventions develop from observations in public space which they transform into actions where the initially observed situation remains recognizable while various modifications establish a new context.

On April 22, Winkler and Köperl presented PPR Experience, an installation-presentation-animation presented as part of Earth Day at Square St-Louis, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., and then at the Goethe-Institute, from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.

- Delgado, Jérôme, «Cités de demain, cités d'aujourd'hui», Le Devoir, 22-23 mai 2010, p.E7.
- Roy, Christian, «Interventions locales à l'échelle mondiale: Des quartiers chinois au Griffintown», Vie des arts, no 219, été 2010, p.102.

© Olivia Boudreau, Les petits (détail), 2011. Image tirée d'une vidéo | Video still. Séquence hd, couleurs, son | HD colour sequence, sound. 13 minutes.

Olivia Boudreau
May 25th 2010
Olivia Boudreau :: Lauréate de la résidence de recherche jeune création Montréal-Valence

Since 2007 art3 and Optica have been initiating a residency exchange programme focussed on emerging artists. Its primary goal is to provide time for reflection to an young artist with a promising, and already active practice. Optica is proud to announce that following a deliberation committee Saturday May 22nd regarding the selection of a Québec based artist for the second edition of the residency programme, the candidacy of Montreal artist, Olivia Boudreau was retained. Olivia will be heading for Valence in autumn, 2010 to continue developing her research on the theme of the indistinct. The jury was comprised of Marie-Ève Charron, art-critic for Le Devoir, Sylvie Gilbert, director of Artexte, Marie-Josée Lafortune, director of Optica, and Sylvie Vojik. director of art3 in Valence. This year, the programme offers the recipient the added possiblility for a residency sojourn at Moly-Sabata in Isère.

The residency exchange programme receives the support from the Ministère des relations internationales du Québec, and the Consulate Generals of France (in the context of the 62nd session of the Commission permanente de coopération franco-québécoise).

Consulat Général de France art3 Région Rhône-Alpes

Sarah Greig
From September 11th 2010 to October 16th 2010
More Different Than Same (de la série «Complete Squares Made From the Same Seven Pieces»)

Time and light are the primary materials of Sarah Greig’s series of photographs. Rendering the process at the very heart of the photographic image is a constant in her practice—one recalls the importance Robert Ryman gave to the medium and to light, referencing the materiality of painting. Greig’s abstract, minimal works explore models of perception while transposing qualities of drawing into the sphere of photography.

As its title suggests, More Different than Same (from the series «Complete Squares Made From the Same Seven Pieces») (2003, 2010) refers to a set of variations on a single composition. From one image to the next, the configuration remains identical, but the surface changes: a square is reconstructed from similar, though differently arranged geometric forms. What one realizes is that the flat planes are in fact volumes, that line is in fact light, which have drawn areas and accentuated the shadows cast.

All this, along with the array of manipulations and movements that form the square, teaches us something about the status of the image. This work is about completeness as much as it is about nothing, thus summing up the impossibility of addressing the totality of a subject that has no end, if only the one the artist gives it as a work. The repeated gesture of (re)composing the image then becomes manifest as document and process.

Similarly in another ongoing series titled Light Shifting on an Object (2010 – ), Greig speaks in terms of "process objects" to describe a similar perceptual mechanism where the image is produced without a camera, from drawing paper exposed to natural light. Small pencil-drawn arrows show the position and elevation of an ephemeral structure made of framing materials. Those register marks suggest a lengthy exposure, after which it is possible to distinguish subtle variations of light on the paper. The temporal process is the only reference in the existence of the work, a dematerialization characteristic of the conceptual practices Greig renders as experience for the spectator.
- Marie-Josée Lafortune

"These images are created through process, and each is in progress – one stop in a system in perpetual rearrangement. For this exhibition, two stops are arranged side by side. They are both same and different, and equal, like different people who understand the same thing in different ways. They are also simple notations, straightforward documents without affect or manipulation. They don’t describe or imagine something else, an invented or constructed space; they describe only themselves. Nothing is hidden and everything is revealed, which makes their flat planes volumetrically divided seem impossible and not so impossible after all.

I think of these images as process objects. To view them as image alone is to miss the space created between them. Where the "and" is, is where the work is : image and process and idea. They are like a lot of things that cannot be seen when viewed in isolation, things like pattern and convention and structure. This time and oftentimes the elements are familiar, or different enough to seem different entirely, which can conceal the whole and make reappearances harder to see."

- sg

For the 14th edition of the Journées de la culture, Optica offers a guided tour. Admission is free. See you there!
Journées de la culture

Pierre Boogaerts
From September 11th 2010 to October 16th 2010
Voitures bleues et ciel au-dessus de chacune d’elles (1976-1979) | Coins de rues (Pyramides) N.Y. 1978-79, Partie I (1978-1979)

Curator: Marie-Josée Lafortune

During his studies, Pierre Boogaerts strove to move away from the mimetic and, although he mastered its codes, from pictorial tradition. So he turned to photography, in which he saw an opening, a democratization of the image. "Photography is the only medium that affords me that distance," he says. In fact, he is more interested in the stretched canvas considered as a sign in itself than he is in marking its surface. He evinces a desire to deal with representation differently, not just as image, but as materiality. It isn’t photography’s documentary value that appeals to him, but the reproducibility of the medium and its cataloguing ability, both decisive in his practice. This, among other things, explains the free use he makes of the camera for its technical qualities, as a material.

By way of actions, exercises, and city strolls taken through Montreal and New York, he developed a unique conceptual approach that led him to think of the image in terms of the photographic act. His first tries are telling—one could speak of a new subjectivity. In Références : plantation / jaune bananier, showcased at OPTICA in 1975, the juxtaposition of a street light and a banana tree create what he calls a "reference image." "Giving an object a banana-yellow reference highlights the impact the (reference) image has on the object but also on the object’s environment," he says. Boogaerts then uses the term "synthetic image" as a new paradigm describing the gap between nature and culture present in his series. On this same theme, New York, N.Y. 1976-1977 – a three-part exhibition jointly presented by OPTICA and Galerie Gilles Gheerbrant in 1977 – is characteristic of his methods, which, along with the conception of the exhibition, "operate" upon both representation and our relationship to the work.

Moreover, the artist’s writings testify to some interest in questions raised by the autonomy of the medium and the painting/spectator relationship. His attention to the framing, in what it encompasses and excludes, shows that his conception of photography is informed by the history of painting. It is generally accepted that "the frame determines the autonomy of the painting" (Arasse) and that perspective has transformed Western vision by positioning the spectator as recipient of the painting. For Boogaerts, photography is then part of a process that extends toward modernity.

That is at least what is suggested by the notions of perspective, composition, and the infinite in the series that make up this exhibition, Voitures bleues et ciel au-dessus de chacune d’elles (1976-1979) and Coins de rues (Pyramides) N.Y. 1978-79, Partie I (1978-1979). The earth/sky motif in the two diptychs in Voitures bleues et ciel au-dessus de chacune d’elles is illustrated by the car, on the one hand, and the opening in the sky and clouds on the other. In the upper part of the first work, the black mass of the buildings delimits a passage that opens onto the infinite. The sky’s monochromatic blue is identical to that of the vehicle in the lower part, where the buildings’ shadows and artist’s portrait are reflected. The second diptych may rather be read as a recollection of painting: in a mirror effect, car and clouds capture atmospheric variations of the landscape, the one their source (the sky), the other their mirror (the screen surface).

This series is distinct from Coins de rues (Pyramides) N.Y. 1978-79, Partie I, which shows geometric abstractions, some critics at the time even seeing in them a kinship with the constructivists. Yet our gaze is still directed toward the sky, where the tops of buildings rear up from the edges of the image — a correspondence between street intersections and the limits of the frame, that which appears in the viewfinder. Here, the artist isolates a detail and repeats it sequentially: the pyramid, symbol of civilization, appears in every photograph and orients the image’s meaning, much as the "banana-yellow" did in earlier works. Boogaerts insists on the fact that the pyramid (reference) was everywhere in New York and in the news — as instanced in the Tutankhamun exhibition and the start of Middle East peace talks.

This last body of work signals a very active period for the artist, who constantly questioned the image and the objectivity of the camera. For him, the outward gaze (eye/lens) fashions our rapport with the world. The dilemma that motivates him and that eventually leads him to interrupt his practice is evident when he writes: "to photograph, is [. . .] to accept the machine’s point of view, to accept to frame our gaze according to that of the camera such that it may conform to that of society."1
- Marie-Josée Lafortune

1. Pierre Boogaerts, «Perspective, photographie et encadrement», Parachute, no 30, (March-April-May 1983), p.39.

The works in the exhibition come from the collection of Concordia University’s Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery. I wish to thank Pierre Boogaerts for his support, as well as Mélanie Rainville, Max Stern Curator, for her invaluable contribution, and Michèle Thériault, director of the gallery, for the loan of the works.

List of works

From the series Voitures bleues et ciel au-dessus de chacune d’elles, 1976-1979
Diptych, 1979
Dimensions: 51 x 61cm
Chromogenic print on fiberboard
Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery collection, Concordia University

From the series Voitures bleues et ciel au-dessus de chacune d’elles, 1976-1979
Diptych, 1979
Dimensions: 51 x 61cm
Chromogenic print on fiberboard
Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery collection, Concordia University

Coin de Madison Ave et 49 th St., N.Y. – 12 décembre 1978, 1978
From the series Coins de rues (Pyramides) N.Y. 1978/79, Partie 1, 1978-1979
Chromogenic print on fiberboard
Dimensions: 51 x 61cm
Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery collection, Concordia University

Coin de Broadway et 37th St., N.Y. – 12 décembre 1978, 1978
From the series Coins de rues (Pyramides) N.Y. 1978/79, Partie 1, 1978-1979
Chromogenic print on fiberboard
Dimensions: 51 x 61cm
Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery collection, Concordia University

Coin de Lexington Ave et 49 th St., N.Y. – 16 janvier 1979, 1979
From the series Coins de rues (Pyramides) N.Y. 1978/79, Partie 1, 1978-1979
Chromogenic print on fiberboard
Dimensions: 51 x 61cm
Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery collection, Concordia University

Coin de 5th Ave et 50 th St., N.Y. – 18 janvier 1979, 1979
From the series Coins de rues (Pyramides) N.Y. 1978/79, Partie 1, 1978-1979
Chromogenic print on fiberboard
Dimensions: 51 x 61cm
Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery collection, Concordia University

For the 14th edition of the Journées de la culture, Optica offers a guided tour. Admission is free. See you there!
Journées de la culture

Born in Brussels in 1946, Pierre Boogaerts has lived in Montreal since 1974 and has exhibited in Canada, the United States, and Europe. In the 1990s, he quit all artistic activity and donated his work to the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, in Ottawa. In 1998, he founded the Centre Pierre Boogaerts, wholly dedicated to the teaching of the Art of Chi, following Stévanovitch’s method.

OPTICA, un projet d'art contemporain, no.1,2,3,4.
© Gabor Szilasi, Anne-Lise Seusse,
Stéphane Gilot, Suzy Lake.

Stéphane Gilot, Suzy Lake
October 1st 2010
Optica, un projet d'art contemporain no. 3 + no. 4 | Projets d'artistes originaux distribués sous forme d'affiches gratuites

*Available now*

As of January 2010, original artist projects highlighting current programming and the OPTICA Archives have been made freely available in the form of limited edition posters. Around fifteen consignee venues now form an alternative distribution network that stretches all the way to France. Following on Gabor Szilasi (no.1) and Anne-Lise Seusse (no.2), the next duo, Stéphane Gilot (no.3) and Suzy Lake (no.4), heralds this year’s thematic orientation, which, aside from its focus on the document, broaches women’s contribution to the centre’s development. These, unquestionably, are images to treasure!

See below for locations addresses as of December 1st, 2010. It is often updated to include all points of distribution.

Fofa Gallery, 1515 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest
Galerie Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, 1400 blvd de Maisonneuve West
Médiathèque du Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 185 Sainte-Catherine West
Optica, 372 Sainte-Catherine West, # 508
Galerie de l’UQAM, Université du Québec à Montréal, Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, 1400 Berri Street

Délégation générale du Québec à Paris, 66 rue Pergolèse, Paris, France
Librairie du Québec, 30 rue Gay Lussac, Paris, France

FRANCE, Valence
art3 art contemporain, 8 rue Sabaterie, Valence, France

© Olivia Boudreau, Les petits (détail), 2011. Image tirée d'une vidéo | Video still. Séquence hd, couleurs, son | HD colour sequence, sound. 13 minutes.

Olivia Boudreau
From October 1st 2010 to December 31st 2010
Résidence de recherche jeune création Montréal-Valence

Olivia Boudreau has been awarded the joint Montreal/Valence research and grant program for young artists in 2010. The young video and performance artist was selected following a session held on May 22 by a jury composed of Marie-Ève Charron (Le Devoir), Sylvie Gilbert (Artexte), Marie-Josée Lafortune (Optica), and Sylvie Vojik (art3). In Valence, Boudreau will continue a body of work that revolves around instinct and the leitmotif and concept of the opening. This year she is also being offered a stay at Moly-Sabata, in Isère. This joint program initiated by OPTICA and art3 in 2005 receives support from the Ministère des relations internationales du Québec and the Consulat général de France.

Consulat Général de France art3 Région Rhône-Alpes

Christof Migone
From November 6th 2010 to December 11th 2010
Disco Sec

Christof Migone, an author, university lecturer, curator and artist working in performance, video and sound experiments, presents Disco Sec, an exhibition that mirrors his multidisciplinary practice. Sculptures and light installations (re)appropriating various elements related to the musical field are accompanied by sound and textual pieces on the same theme. Migone relates that he is using citations as material and as method of fragmentation to sketch a portrait of a listening through his own music collection. The result is a "synoptic project", a "saturated jukebox of noisy bursts and silent ghosts".

The exhibition brings together a number of pieces which, although autonomous, form a coherent immersive environment when they are arranged in a given space. The version being presented at OPTICA includes Disco Sec—title piece of the project—a sound work where every track from 100 records of significance to the artist are reduced to their unmodified first and last seconds. This is a recurring strategy in Migone’s work, one he previously applied to literature in "La première phrase et le dernier mot" (Le Quartanier, 2004). Doubles and Single also explore creative chance through pseudo exquisite corpses: the lyrics of 12 double albums and 45 songs are placed in alphabetical order, with and without doublets respectively, and then printed on empty, plain white record covers. Such use of covers—deconstructed, along with the vinyl they contain, in Cut Cut—may bring to mind the close and sometimes mythical relationship between visual arts and music, connected through album booklets (as seen with Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground, among others).

Migone’s installation brings out all the creative potential of the act of citing which, more than a mere tool, is elevated here to the status of a system. It is a sterling illustration of the adage that in all art there is an interplay between absorption (tradition) and transformation (innovation), a precept widely acknowledged both in literature—where "every text is a tissue of quotations" (Barthes)—and in music, with its countless arrangements, samplings, themes and variations, etc. Echoing all these intricacies, Disco Sec creates a bountiful and wide-ranging network of intermediality. It transforms the materials, texts and sounds it deconstructs into "memory-objects", as Migone describes them, which it is then up to viewers to (re)interpret.
- Geneviève Bédard

The list of songs from Doubles, Single and Disco Sec is available at :: www.christofmigone.com

In addition to his many artistic activities, Christof Migone is a lecturer at the University of Toronto. He is also the director of the Blackwood Gallery (Mississauga) and one of the founding members of Avatar (Quebec City). Since the fall of 2008, various elements of Disco Sec have been presented at Mercer Union and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), AxeNéo7 (Gatineau) and CCS Bard (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York). A publication was also issued by Ohm in 2009.

Marie-Claude Bouthillier
From November 6th 2010 to December 11th 2010
Dans le ventre de la baleine

In the history of painting, the studio is a motif closely tied to the artist’s biography. Marie-Claude Bouthillier’s new work, Dans le ventre de la baleine (2010), confirms the attraction this space exercises on our imagination. Here she takes up the challenge of exhibiting a process and designing a custom-made pictorial environment which enables her to explore the perceptual properties of painting; the grid motif and its referent, the canvas. Some of her concerns derive from the structure of Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau and from the piece L’Atelier Brancusi, two references brought up to date in this "all-over" installation which incorporates surrounding space and transforms our focal point.

In the small gallery, pieces of painted canvas, past paintings and objects are thus piled up in a way suggestive of an artist’s studio without however being a faithful recreation of one. Even though Bouthillier has replicated its dimensions, there is no direct reference to her studio, but the abundance of motifs, screens, grids and veils—reminiscent of her Psychés-écrans and Apparitions series—reinforces the impression of being inside the materiality of the painting (or paintings), a feeling further suggested by the visual and tactile quality of the various surfaces we are exposed to. In his essay "After Abstract Expressionism" (Art International, October 1962), Clement Greenberg recognised that “the observance of merely these two norms [flatness and the delimitation of flatness] is enough to create an object which can be experienced as a picture: thus a stretched or tacked-up canvas already exists as a picture—though not necessarily as a successful one”. As Greenberg emphasized, the "outcome of this reduction has been not to contract, but actually to expand the possibilities of the pictorial". To this end, Bouthillier tends towards a greater materiality of painting by making representation, the tactility of the medium (direct reference to textiles), the motif and the print co-exist, and thereby exacerbating these conventions.

In this installation, Bouthillier insists on the concepts of transformation and process in order to describe the properties of a new space whose configuration evokes a sanctuary, a lair, a place in gestation—as its title Dans le ventre de la baleine ("In the Belly of the Whale") describes perfectly. The work refers more to Schwitters’ utopian constructions than to Brancusi’s studio; we must therefore not confuse this environment with a mise en scène of a studio, but rather understand and perceive it as an envelope that is a work in its own right.
- Marie-Josée Lafortune

"Dans le ventre de la baleine" is the subject of an article by Nicolas Mavrikakis, Marie-Claude Bouthillier - Naviguer sur la toile (Voir, November 18th 2010), a radio interview on The Désautels Show Marie-Claude Bouthillier's interview ( Désautels, November 29th 2010) and a review by Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre, Marie-Claude Bouthillier - Dans le ventre de la baleine( Esse arts + opinions, no.71, Winter 2011.)

"Dans le ventre de la baleine" ranks at the head of the top 5 best shows of 2010 by Nicolas Mavrikakis Revue 2010 / Arts visuels - Une année radicale? (Voir, December 23rd 2010), as well as in Marie-Eve Beaupré’s Top 3: Quebec Quality / various locations jan to dec 2010 (Canadian Art, 23 décembre 2010).

Marie-Claude Bouthillier is a well-known figure in Quebec’s artistic scene. Her work has been exhibited at venues such as the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. She is also a curator, whose exhibitions include Réponse à Zola (2006), presented at the Clark gallery. Her work can be found in public collections.