Top 5 Montreal Art Shows of 2013

Crédit photo: Émilie Deshaies Top 5 Montreal Art Shows of 2013

Contemporary art is at its most powerful when it provokes, seduces or jars us into perceiving and understanding the world (and ourselves) differently. Art can bridge worlds and cultures, and time and space, to present concepts and experiences in a way words can sometimes struggle to do in this brave new globalized world. These five exhibitions, in their own ways, do just this.

1. Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

Beat Nation brings together the works of 28 contemporary aboriginal artists who remix, reclaim and reassert their own cultural traditions (past and present). In a year that saw Idle No More resist corporate colonization of aboriginal territory, and aboriginal artists resist the colonization of museum gift stores, this exhibition should be mandatory viewing. By skillfully asserting their individuality, these artists dispel stereotypes and powerfully claim the right to tell their own stories.
Until January 5th at the MACM

2. Thomas Demand: Animations

Demand’s work is really all about process—both his creative process and how his work reverberates in the viewer’s mind as it is processed over time. The physical is subsumed by the conceptual, reconstructed in paper then represented via the mediums of film and photography to be seen anew. His focus on how we construct and represent reality, the mechanics of it all, not only questions the physical act of seeing but also how narratives, and reality, are constructed.
Read our full review 
3. Bevan Ramsay: Soft Tissue
Art Mûr

Ramsay’s photographs and sculptures get to the meat of the matter of being made of flesh and blood and bone. They’re a visceral, surreal challenge to how we think about our own existence and how we view (and consume) our fellow beasts. There’s none of the voyeurism or glorification of serial killer violence (as seen on TV) in Ramsay’s work, nor is it a PETA-inspired attack on carnivores. His wounded hybrid creatures, which are both beautiful and disturbing, seem to have crawled out of one of Bosch’s paintings but the large-scale photographs bring us back to the mundane world of hamburgers, supermarkets and everyday existence.
 4. Claudie Gagnon: Les queues de comète
Centre Clark

Gagnon’s work in her first solo exhibition transforms the tools and trinkets of domesticity into shimmering universes that function equally as fetishistic mobiles, trashy chandeliers and imaginary solar systems. Gagnon weighs the scale so that the microcosmic and the universal become equal in importance, dingy domesticity is beatified and even dust, hair and rubber bands can whisper to us of distant stars that streak through the sky. Time, along with the objects are suspended and illuminated in the most unexpected ways.
5. Like Thunder Out of China

Explicitly chosen for being controversial (or banned) in China, the 13 young, dissident artists in this show poke and prod at Communist Chinese cultural icons and iconography. But these artists are more aligned with the ongoing global cultural revolution than Mao’s dusty old Cultural Revolution. They speak Disney, Pop and capitalism—the Gao Brothers Miss Mao 3 sprouts both Pinocchio’s nose and massive tits, Chang Lei’s Animal Farm references Orwell—even if democracy eludes them at home.
Read our full review

5 More Standout Montreal Art Exhibits of 2013:
Laurent Craste: Trans/forme/pose/figure at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Gabriel Coutu-Dumont: Wonders of a Transient Universe at Phi Centre and The Way of the Willows at Donald Browne Gallery (see photo below)
Cory Arcangel: Power Points at DHC/ART (Read our interview with the artist)
- Sarah Febbraro: Minor Threats at La Centrale 
- Luc Paradis: POMPIA at Parisian Laundry

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