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Visual arts in review: The world turns but no revolutions

The world turns but no revolutions

Photo: Playing Doctor, 1992 by General Idea: good medicin

Year in review

The past year in the arts has been one of highs and lows, as years – and arts – are wont to be. Overall I enjoyed what I saw, though I wasn’t bowled over by anything absolutely groundbreaking – the year was more predictable in its pleasures. But who needs never-ending revolutions?

Retrospective of the year The Musée d’art contemporain’s first postmortem retrospective of Yves Gaucher’s work filled me with a surge of energy I’d been craving for a while. Truly a site for basking in the glory of pigment and form, the show continues to January 11.

Most comfortable show… literally, was Have a Seat, by Chris Flower and Kelly Lynne Wood, at Articule back in April. It was a simple piece (basically a chair rigged up to a screen), but its user-responsiveness was charming and fun and evocative.

Most overrated show Françoise Sullivan at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Incredible contributions to dialogue don’t equal formal value. I was lonely in my criticism among a mass of reverential art writers.

Most promising project Hors Pairs, the show that united the works of Papa Palmerino and The Great Antonio at Fonderie Darling, was so exciting, but suffered in the space’s cavernous size. The hanging was an interesting solution to a recognized problem, but not quite effective in making the material stand out as unique.

Best new space(s) Galerie Art Mûr – okay, I’m not exactly sure whether it was this year or last that Art Mûr moved from Notre-Dame to Saint-Hubert, but it’s a magnificent space that has quickly become one of the most attractive art sites in the city. Highlights in their overall solid programming in the last year included Sylvie Fraser, Barbara Todd and Andrea Szilasi. Which leads me to Joyce Yahouda’s gallery in the Belgo, a transformative space where the performance arts find fixed form. A very welcome addition to the landscape.

Most elevating works came courtesy of Jocelyne Alloucherie at Roger Bellemare, one of those shows I ached to write about on a week there was no space. Alloucherie’s recent work is architectural, building photography into a sculptural medium. The black and white compositions that made up the show were serenely simple and potent.

Most emotionally captivating exhibition Not Nan Goldin, though the emotional gymnastics were okay. What stayed with me the longest was a creepy, creepy installation piece by Michael A. Robinson at Skol in May that consisted of a sick person in a hospital room. I felt the aura of the person through the model lying there. Heart-wrenching. And creepy.

Political chow-down of the year Jayce Salloum gave life to this year’s Mois de la Photo in my opinion, providing in his piece Everything and Nothing and Other Works from the Ongoing Video Installation "Untitled" material that couldn’t but infiltrate the mind.

Lecture series of the year The series organized by Concordia’s Studio Arts and MFA Visiting Artist Program continues to impress with a stellar, fascinating lineup that has included, to date, Carolee Schneeman, Nicholas Baier, Louis Wilson, Stephen Schofield and Pierre Dorion. Don’t miss Marcel Marois and Aganetha Dyck in January.

Best-curated show General Idea at the Leonard and Bina Ellen Gallery, curated by Blackwood Gallery director/curator Barbara Fischer, was the best-researched, most charismatic and passionate exhibition I’d seen in a while. I was riveted.

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