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October 24, 2002 Art Matters 2003 showcases creativity—controversy




by Craig Stein

A giant banner showing President George Bush with the twin towers emerging from his pants has attracted attention, some of it highly critical, to the student-run Art Matters festival.

The banner, by art student Allison Moor, is displayed on the busy mezzanine of the Henry F. Hall Building, and since it went up March 10, has drawn angry comment, approval, efforts to take it down, and local TV coverage.

The organizers of the festival have defended it on the grounds of artistic freedom, and Moor has said, “This piece is in no way meant to trivialize the events of Sept. 11. My intent is to create peaceful dialogue within a public arena.”

The piece is just one of hundreds of expressions of creativity generated by the art festival, of which this is the third annual edition.

The air was buzzing with excitement at the VAV Gallery last Friday night for the launch of Art Matters 2003, and the space was filled with excited artists.

The arts festival, which takes place at Concordia as well as at various Montreal locations, will present more than 100 works. The following is a sample.

Sebastien Gauthier is an inter-disciplinary artist who has two shows at the festival. As a musician playing at Bonkif’s, a bar on Crescent St., he is leading his band, Tricycle, a surreal, pop-art rock ensemble of three core musicians, with special guests, including a violinist, a percussionist and a belly dancer.

In Gauthier’s words, audiences can expect to hear “satire and rubber tires burning down the street.” To some ears it may sound more like a jester’s jukebox. In any event, Gauthier promises playful music with “lyrics from the back alley.”

His second venture, The Dreambox Machine, involves the world of multimedia. This project grew out of Gauthier’s fascination with comic strips as well as with collages based on scientific images. The Dreambox Machine is a union of these two media.

Audiences will be able to interact with Gauthier as they step up and into his booth, hearing a musical collage while wearing the dreambox. They will also be asked to share one of their dreams. Then, in a fanciful flip, the dreamer may morph into the dreamed, as Gauthier uses their material in an upcoming project.

Gauthier’s zine, consisiting of more than 300 images on a super-natural science theme, will also be on display. The vernissage for The Dreambox Machine is March 17, at 8 p.m. (And homemade wine will be provided by Gauthier’s dad!)

Valerie Buddle will producer an evening of dance entitled You are Here. Audiences will be presented with six modern dance pieces by six different choreographers, each between five and 10 minutes long.

The choreographers, all in their second or third year of choreography, are working within a framework of simplicity. The prevailing belief among these choreographers is that contemporary dance can frequently be alienating for an audience. These choreographers are striving to make their work visually palatable and emotionally engaging, but beyond that, they are varied.

Today I Spent a Lonely Afternoon questions what happens when love is forced to disappear. Get the Fake Out evolved from the theatrical roots of contact improv. And a third piece has been created around a score of original music. All performances take place at the Belgo Building, Studio 303, on March 14-16.

Shawn Mackniak is a ceramic artist. His show, Ceramic Environments, is currently on display at the Hive. Consisting of hundreds of tiny ceramic pieces, Mackniak’s work is “reflective of how we interact with each other in society.”

Breaking away from the polite etiquette of viewing ceramic art from a distance, Mackniak insists that audiences pick his pieces up and move them around to “fully realize” them.

The Hive, already a hub of interaction for students as they eat, study together, or listen to music is, appropriately, playing host to Ceramic Environments.

Jason Wasserman and Krista Bursey will present their show, Black and White, at the World Beat Centre on March 16. This three-hour multimedia event is part painting and design installation and part live music/soundscape performance with visual projections.

Focusing on the symbiotic relationship between technology and nature, Wasserman and Bursey use design media and the fine arts to create their multimedia world. The show, dedicated to presenting images and environments that define and reflect contemporary culture, seeks “to establish a new sense of art experience, where the viewer is enthralled by multiple-sensory works.”

Art Matters continues until March 21. Times and places for all shows are posted on thes Web at http://artmatters.concordia.ca.