For many people, collage isn’t really an art form. It’s an activity you give kids when you have a bunch of old magazines to get rid of and they’re bored and restless. Quebec Collage is looking to change all that.

This initiative seeks to promote the art of collage through webcasts, calls for artist submissions, workshops, and exhibitions. Their latest effort is the Retailles exhibition, a collective art show featuring collagists from Quebec and abroad.

Hosted at Galerie/Atelier Marc Gosselin, The Retailles exhibition invites you to look beyond your perceptions of collage. It features two parts, one showcasing ten Quebecois collage artists, and the other displaying a selection of postcard art in the Noir & Blanc.

The Quebec artists featured include Virginie Maltais, founder of Quebec Collage, as well as Jérome Bertrand, Lucie Bosquin, Éric Braün, Madame Gilles, Caro Dubois, Linda Luttinger, Jean Marie Moncelet, Jean Martin (RAVEN), and François-Xavier Vigneault Marcil. One look at their works will dispel any misconceptions you have about the art of collage.

Despite the myths, collage is a complex art, with some artists featuring intricate scissor cuts or torn paper and elaborate placement, while others, like Virginie Maltais and Linda Luttinger, opt to combine torn or cut paper with the use of paint in their work. It is truly eye opening and proof that collage is more than child’s play.

The Noir & Blanc part of the exhibition is the result of an international call for submissions. Artists from around the world were invited to submit analog collages in the form of black and white postcards.

This included everyone from established collagists to those new to the art form. What you’ll see at the exhibition are the postcards that made the cut, pun intended.

If you’re interested in visual art and want to expand your horizons, learn about collage, or just see some amazing work by local and international artists, check out the Retailles exhibition. It ends tomorrow (Sunday), so get moving!

Retailles can be seen at Galerie/Atelier Marc Gosselin, 3880 Saint Catherine East until July 14, 2019 at 5 pm

Photos by Rene Bellefeuille

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its early November edition. The chill has definitely returned to Montreal, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to lock ourselves indoors yet! Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Bareoke presented by Glam Gam

No stranger to performing in local strip clubs with the burlesque troupe Glam Gam, Lipster’s organizers realized this type of venue would surely allow them to transform their karaoke show into Stripster!

Now you can find them the first Saturday of every month at the historic Café Cléopâtre, which comes equipped with a large stage, a smoke machine and crazy lighting which allows people to take their performances to the next level.

Glam Gam’s organizers have made an important step in making the space open for everyone, according to their Facebook event page : “We are thrilled to have performers of all different backgrounds, ages, body types, gender identities and sexualities. Some people will take off just a sock, others will get down to their skivvies and a lot of brave souls prance around in their birthday suits! The best part is that everyone respects and encourages each other’s boundaries with little to no policing on our part.”

Come see what all the fuss is about!

Bareoke @ Café Cléopâtre, 1230 St Laurent, Saturday, November 5, 10PM, $5

FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!
FTB is no stranger to Glam Gam!

Fishbowl Collective Presents: An Anti-War Art Pop-up

The Fishbowl Collective will be occupying a studio space in Griffintown and filling it with art of all kinds against war/militarism of any kind!

At 8:30, the space will be taken over by anti-war Pierrots in an hour-long version of Theatre Workshop’s Oh What a Lovely War!

From 9:30-11 the space will act as a showcase for local artists to show their work!

Local anti-war organizations will be tabling in the space.

Oh What A Lovely War's Theatrical Poster
Oh What A Lovely War’s Theatrical Poster

Using songs and documents of the period, Oh What a Lovely War! is an epic theatrical chronicle of the horrors of WWI as presented by a seaside pierrot troupe. It was collectively created by Theatre Workshop in 1963 under Joan Littlewood, and over 50 years later remains unique in its innovative satiric way of looking at the difficult subject of war and its futility. Its dismissal of sentimentality and its distinct anti-war-agit-prop flavour highlights the oppression of the working stiff turned common soldier and points to the absurdity involved in war.

141 Rue Ste Ann, Pay What You Can (All Proceeds go to Actions Réfugiés Montréal)

Pride Screening presented by Socialist Fightback!

Socialist Fightback is screening Pride (2014) at McGill University’s Shatner Building in Room 202 this Wednesday. Entrance is FREE, and a spirited discussion is sure to follow. Curious about what “Solidarity” means to the LGBT community? Check this movie out.

Pride offers an excellent example of solidarity along class lines. Between 1981-1984, the British government under Margaret Thatcher had closed around 20 mining pits and coal mining employment continued to fall. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 was a major industrial action to shut down the British coal industry in an attempt to prevent colliery closures.

Also victims of Thatcher’s bigotry and conservative policies, gays and lesbians came together to collect funds and sustain the miner’s strike. Although reluctant at first, the miners accepted the support from the LGSM.

Pride is a great demonstration of how class unity is the best and most effective way of fighting against all types of oppression.

Pride is screening in the Shatner Building Room 202 @ McGill University, November 9, 7pm, FREE


Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

As of Thursday night, Citizen Vintage, (5330 St-Laurent) will be hosting the vernissage of the Snapshot Project for a few days.

The Snapshot Project was thought of last September by Cleo and Christyna, both new to Montreal. The girls figured this would be a great way to get acquainted with the city and to understand it better through the eyes of strangers with a disposable camera.

The girls applied for a grant with FASA (Fine Arts Student Association), bought 40 disposable cameras and dropped them off with instructions in over 25 locations around the Plateau, Outremont, Rosemont Petite-Patrie and Ville-Marie. Among the places hosting the cameras were Pikolo Espresso Bar, Lapin Presse, Flocon Espresso and many more. The instructions were very simple, pick up the camera, take a photo of whatever and wherever and then bring back the camera.

A month later, Christyna and Cleo picked up the cameras, they collected 31 cameras, very impressive number!

The result is 463 pictures which took 6 hours to install in the shop. The photos are displayed in a way to look like a constellation. The only editing that was done was removing the photos which were too dark or were double. Apart from that all the photos made the cut!

What a clever and simple idea! The result is very cool, the photos are very interesting, some are beautiful shots. Some people took the camera up the mountain or on top of buildings with awesome views of the city.

Disposable cameras are rarer and rarer these days, there were two at the vernissage for people to enjoy. I took a few shots and enjoyed turning the little wheel to be able to take the next shot. It was also refreshing not to be able to see my shot!

The photos will be taken down on Monday so go in this weekend and take a look!

If you miss out on the exhibition, don’t despair as the photos will soon be online, , so keep an eye out for them in the future.

The streets of Montreal are filled with art and graffiti, the line between the two often being blurry at best and non-existent to many. Graffiti has been around for a long time, we can find examples of it in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. The grandfather of modern graffiti was Kyselak, from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early 19th century. He made a bet with friends to have his name known through the Empire within 3 years without inventing a new form of suicide, which was apparently quite popular back in those days! So he started tagging his name all over the Empire and won his bet very quickly, some of his tags are still visible to this day! Modern graffiti mostly started in New York City and spread all over the world.

972241_582917585060898_979767116_nLast March, I had the chance to learn more about the graffiti culture in Montreal thanks to Patrick O’Connor’s documentary Making A Name, un art urbain  premiering at FIFA. Graffiti and tags are all over Montreal, and there are many different versions and styles. O’Connor has been documenting the scene since 1995 and has much of the city’s graffiti history as well as great interviews with many of the cities most prominent Graffiti artists. He manages to show different people’s opinions on graffiti which aren’t always positive, such as his dad’s who really doesn’t understand why people would write such ugly stuff all over the walls of his neighbourhood! The atmosphere in the theatre at Place-des-Arts was quite amazing and unique as a lot of Montreal taggers were gathered together, a rare event which resulted in a lot of cheering and booing depending on who was being interviewed and what was being said. Street artists and cops were amongst the least popular!  (Taggers and street artists don’t always get along.)

Growing up in NDG, I’ve been surrounded by tags left behind by Castro, Sake, the VC crew and many more. I never really paid any attention to them until I recently traveled to Melbourne, Australia. There I really fell in love with street art and learning to appreciate graffiti more. Since my return to Montreal in December, I’ve been taking a lot of photos of the streets and its writings. Take a look at an album I’ve compiled and see if you can figure out where the pics were taken < to be created just link to our fb photo page and i’ll put the album there later>

I also learned that when Castro travelled to LA and saw highways signs tagged, he thought it was such a good idea he brought the technique back to Montreal!

Graffiti and street art are such ephemeral forms of art, you never know how long something you paint may last. Will someone else write over it or will the city cover it up?

You might pass in front of a piece several times before even noticing it.

Street Art versus Graffiti

181199_582917631727560_275387127_nThe difference in many people’s minds between street art and graffiti is that street art has an aesthetic purpose while graffiti is considered to mainly consist of tags. The purpose of tags is mainly to satisfy the writer’s ego and spread his or her name throughout the community or a geographical area. This is the reason why you’ll find a lot of graffiti around highways, tunnels or on trains and trucks. All places where they will last for a while and that will be seen by many. Not everyone appreciates graffiti or even considers it a form of art. What you may not realize is that some taggers spend months perfecting their signature before bombing it all over the city. Also there is a code of ethics, you shouldn’t hit someone’s house or car, not that everyone respects these but they do exist.

Some taggers like to push the limits and climb high buildings to have their names reigning over the city for everyone to see; sometimes literally putting their life on the line. SAKE and CASTRO have created several great examples of these massive displays! I’m always so impressed when I see writings on top of high buildings and wonder how did they got up there Three Montreal taggers died a few years ago after getting hit by a train which reminds us of the dangers of graffiti writing.

Over the past few years graffiti art has begun finding a more mainstream appeal as some street artists have become household names (Banksy, Obey) and major companies have begun using street art to advertise their brands. A local company that is doing just that is called Eragraff, an urban skate and street wear company. Eragraff’s clever advertising campaign consists of people ordering free stickers by mail and then putting them up all over the city. They encourage you to then take a photo of your branding work and load it onto their website, it’s called Placardes ta ville! Got my stickers and started to work, get yours here


As a fine arts student I have constantly whined and complained about the endless studies on abstract expressionists and minimalists that arise in my course material. I have whispered to myself numerous times “I hate you Pollock”. When it comes to abstraction in art, I have seen my opinion shift through the development of my own art education and practice. Of course I understand this period of the canon of art history is important and influential, but I think I am finally starting to understand why I think it is important.

Musée d’Art Contemporain De Montréal (MACM) currently has two exhibitions featuring abstract art; “A Matter of Abstraction” and “On Abstraction”. Art galleries function as places of reflection and tranquility for me, so after a big weekend out I tend to retreat into the white cube. Last week while strolling around the MACM, I began to unpack my attachment to the abstract art movement; minimalism, process art, and abstract expressionism in particular.

I think the beauty and the essence of these works lie in the self-control of the artist; it’s harder to paint a single circle that a representational image. It is assumed in minimal works that the artists’ hand is discrete, but the less visual noise allows their hand to become far more pronounced. I have heard numerous people say, “That’s three lines, I could have painted that. That’s not art”. You’re right,  maybe you could have painted Barnett Newman’s Voice of Fire, but you didn’t. As mechanical as it might appear, there is so much precision and thought put into those three vertical lines.

Jean Paul Riopelle - (Landing, 1949)

It is impossible to fully experience a piece of art unless you are standing in front of it. In reflecting on the work of Jean-Paul Riopelle, at the MACM, I could see the movements that lead to it’s creation many years ago. The thick strokes and drops of paint present in the works of the abstract expressionists brought painting into a new dimension.

It ceased to exist as two-dimensional and became a moment in time. By placing the canvas on a horizontal plane, Jackson Pollock changed the dimensions of painting. Painting began to live in a new place and in a time of it’s own. The paint itself lives in space, not in the way its blended onto a canvas. These paintings are nearly time based, as they are the products of performative action.

In the last few weeks I have been contemplating material presence in art, and the presence of the artist in their own work. There is a direct correlation between the way the artist handles material and their presence in the final artwork. While an artist lives on through their work, it is much more inspiring to see the artist’s actual movements and hand in their creation. I think what really strikes me is the way an artist like Francoise Sullivan’s paintings can recall their own creation. The way the material is handled and how the technique is altered, demonstrates change in the pace and intent of their application. These techniques recall the artist, their hand, and their process. 

Fracoise Sullivan - Paterson (2003)

No matter what you put in a museum, it will develop an air of importance. Next time you step into a gallery, challenge yourself to stay 20 minutes with one piece of art. Take it in, look at the composition, the colors, realize all of the decisions the artist made in its creation. Maybe then three lines on a canvas will seem slightly more appealing.

We seem to forget that art exists as history, as well as image. Art tells the story very differently than the history books do, and maybe we enjoy spending time around these relics to experience the past in a more sensory way.

This year’s Art Matters Festival is already underway. The event runs from March 8–22nd with venues scattered all around the city. The student run festival aims to join the emerging art community of Concordia University’s undergraduate students with local art institutes. All organizers, curators and artists exhibiting are Concordia students. The festival promotes growth, diversity, exposure, communication, and community.

The first official event was hosted event for the festival’s 13th edition was hosted at the Mainline theatre on Nuit Blanche, and another opening party featuring djs and video projections at Espace Reunion.  Artists from all disciplines are celebrated: visual art, dance, performance, music, and design are just some of the  expressions showcased by this year’s line-up. Come  celebrate the creative individuals that make up Concordia University’s population.

Here are all eleven exhibitions being held this year:

Assumptions are not derivative of accepted facts but of distant tales. -March 7 – 19 at Galerie Espace

Curio – March 8-22 at Coat Check Gallery

Erase and Rewind – March 8 – 22 at Studio XX

Ill Palette – March 8 –  22 at Eastern Bloc

Lab 353 Biologie Materialiste – March 8 – 22 at Espace Projet

Menagerie for Hair & Wood – March 11 – 17 at La Baraque

Nature/Culture – March 8 – 22 at Studio #427

Ruins – March 11 – 22 at VAV Gallery

The Tactility of Objects: A Retrospective – March 7 – 18 at Les Territoires

Youth Well Wasted – March 8 – 22 at BBAM! Gallery

Another F****** Exhibition About Identities -March 1 – 30 / Casa Del Popolo


For more information on curators and artists, attend the open house weekend March 16-17. 

I like the idea of the Nuit Blanche celebration. While the common view of the art space is that of a white, occasionally esoteric one, Nuit Blanche is fueled by the desire to turn that view around. The event has something to share with everyone. It truly encourages the celebration of culture, in an way that you can easily get amped up about. It promotes the arts – local and beyond, and encourages people to get outdoors and spend an evening on the town as pedestrians.

It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of the night. The noise, excitement and energy vibrates around you and makes it hard keep focused. I got swallowed  by the bright lights, video projections and dance music. While I only managed to make it to three of the sites on my already very narrowed down list, the night was a success.

First Stop: Turn On a Dime hosted at Citizen Vintage.

Collectif Beaux Enfants at Citizen Vintage

The performance was put on by the ten members of Collectif Beaux Enfants. The group sat in formal wear at the dinner table eating, chatting and watching the audience watch them through the window front. The group of ten seemed quite relaxed with one man lying on a bench as the others poked at their food on the table. The audience had access to headphones that fed through the microphones stationed inside the store.

I find the act of watching mundane actions somewhat fascinating. By turning a usual ritual into a spectacle, the viewer is allowed a brief moment into another persons behaviors. This aspect of performance is one that I enjoy watching being pushed and prodded. I found it slightly more enjoyable as I have my own neurotic tendencies when eating in public, so kudos to them!

Second Stop: The Postcard Project hosted by Gallery Co

Postcard Project at Gallery Co

This was Sarah Nesbitt’s second year of The Postcard Project. Last Saturday at Gallery Co people gathered around the benches and tables to chat and craft as a group. The stations were outfitted with glitter, glue, gems, magazines and all sorts of collaging material. The goal of the piece is to engage participants in social media “the old fashion way”.

There were also pre-designed postcards to be sent to Stephen Harper. In hopes of encouraging activism and taking a role in change. Others made cute mementos to share with friends for the sake of crafting. Sarah introduced me to one woman who was making and addressing a postcard for the very first time, definitely a curious moment to share.

Third Stop: Montreal En Lumiere

After having been running for two weeks, I finally made my way down to the site of Montreal En Lumiere. The site was busy and bright as expected. The line ups were too long to get into any of the art installations, but I enjoyed seeing people young and old celebrating. With a roller coaster, ice slide, live music, and installations it would be hard not to. I stayed for a bit of music and took take advantage of the opportunity to roast a sausage downtown.Slides at Montreal en Lumiere

After a long search and a failed attempt to get to my next event, I called it a night.My biggest complaint about Montreal’s Nuit Blanche is the early close. At the end of it all, I got to check out a few sites, enjoy projections and music with good people. Not much to complain about there. Despite a cold winter, this city never looks as fantastic as it does when it’s lit up and in a light snowfall.

So Nuit Blanche is upon us once again and you’re wondering what to do with your night. Well, we have you covered with over 25 activities and shows not to miss. We’ve divided this guide up by area to help you plan your night accordingly. Nuit Blanche is very much about art and local artists and the Belgo building and the underground city are the best place to find this. As everything is so close together I’ll just cover it briefly and suggest that you should definitely check some stuff out. Wander through or hit up the 4 floors of the Belgo for your art fix either before, during or after checking out some of these great activities



NB_RIO_Esplanade_Activité2So I’m going to start my night out here as there are only a few things I want to see and the Olympic Stadium is so far.

1. First stop is dinner at 1st Saturdays. First Saturdays is the time of month that Montreal’s Food Trucks gather to offer their fine cuisine on wheels. Come grab a bite and prepare your tummy for the long night ahead!

2. The new Planetarium will be opening this evening for a special Nuit Blanche pre-launch. Come check it out before it officially opens in a few weeks time. (potentially exterior site only)

3. There is also a Who Done It, Murder Mystery at the Biodome. While there is a fee of 12$ this could be fun.



Downtown is a much larger area, but there is shuttle bus service that will be passing regularly to speed you along your way. The Belgo is also in this area so I’ll start with that.

4. The Belgo building is one of Montreal’s best collections of local artists in one space. There are 4 floors with a dozen different studios and exhibit rooms for you to check out. Of particular note is:

NB_Diego_Piccini5. Incarnation 3 – Les femmes fleurs which is a series of long exposure photos of women that turns them into beautiful flowers.

6. MAXX HQ en DS is a clothing art thing where they promise to edit/add some fun pieces to your attire!

7. 10, Coconut Beach Drive is a photo exhibit that will help you beat the winter blues. You can get your photo taken and they will add a beach backdrop to remind you of the warmer months.

8. Edgy All Night Long is the begining of the EDGY WOMEN festival which features strong independent women and focuses on the domain of ART, SPORT & GENDER. (Watch for our feature article on the festival in the next few days)

Near the Belgo building there are a bunch of other fun activities.

9. Bouge De La! – For those of you that remember MusicPlus’ late night dance party show, it’s back! Come dance for a retro good time.

10. Want to eat cake? Bakers at the Carré Confiserie will be building a 10 foot cake and are inviting you to help decorate it. (and then eat it)

11. Herbes dix is an exhibition about herbal plant remedies. If you’ve got a bit of hippy in you, you’ll want to check this out.

12. The Omni hotel will be giving out free cookies & hot chocolate if you happen to pass by.

13. Picollo expresso bar is also doing free tastings if you want a cafein fix.NB_SAT

14. The SAT (Société des arts technologiques) is doing a cool 8-bit exhibit with live music, food and installation that is definitely worth checking out. 3 floors of fun!

15. Montreal’s Contemporary Art Museum always has cool stuff. If you don’t get a chance to go regularly why not take this opportunity.



While the Plateau is usually the center of Montreal’s art community, it especially is on a night like tonight.

16. Art Matters at the Mainline theatre will be featuring tons and tons of artists each performing super short art, dance & performance pieces.

17. Need a hair cut? Visit Coupe Bizzare for a unique new do!

18. La Cuvée d’hiver – beer tasting is the perfect tasting event to warm your winter evenings. 5$ ish with a reusable cup

19. Jive studio, (rockabilly dancing 2$)

NB_Atelier_Circulaire20. The Postcard Project – Sarah Nesbitt’s “Postcard Project” invites you to rediscover the joys of social networking “the old fashioned way,” using personally designed postcards.

20. Spin and Scratching session (vinyl disc making) – an exhibition of screenprinted vinyl covers by Suzie Smith, and take part in an interactive breakdance performance and drawing session.



NB_centre_histoire21. Qui Va La? Historivcal re-enaction – This year, the Centre d’histoire de Montréal has invited the Compagnie de Lacorne to garrison the museum. Night owls will learn about the daily life of soldiers in New France and watch troops fire musket salvos in honour of the 10th anniversary of the Nuit blanche.

22. Contes de vers (glass blowing)

23. Like/Comment/subscribe (classic youtube vids)

If you’ve got more suggestions leave them in the comments below.
And for a guide to help you get the most of the evening check out our Nuit Blanche Survival Guide!

*Top image Esther Gibbons,


This Saturday welcomes the tenth celebration of Montreal’s Nuit Blanche. These festivals have been happening all around the world for over two decades now. The goal: to transform a city into an all night art party. With events from dancing to performance to  poetry to visual art, there is something for everyone. This is the one night a year we are shaken out of our homes to experience the city and it’s cultural decadence illuminated.


Programming is in five different zones: Quartiers de spectacle, Old Montreal, The Olympic Park, The Plateau and Mile End, and even an underground site throughout the metro stations. During Montreal’s all nighter,  the metro will stay open all evening, as well as shuttle buses around the city to get you to and from each happening – clearly you have no excuse to stay in this Saturday! Do your best to plan the night accordingly as there’s lots of ground to cover and lots of hours to fill. After a few fantastic Nuit Blanches in several major cities, I look forward to see what Montreal brings to the table.

Here is my advice on how to get the best out of your Nuit Blanche experience:

1. Plan accordingly! Make a list of the sites you want to visit, plan out your route and double check times to make sure you can get there on time. Most listings include start and end times, as well as the times that the artist is present (if you’d like to get a more immersive understanding of what you’re experiencing). With many things closing at 3 a.m., do your research and check out what you’re really interested in, there is nothing worse than making it across town to be disappointed with the experience.

AS_6_2_C_Bolduc2. While the snow might be melting, let’s not forget it is still winter. The best advice I can give for enduring a full Nuit Blanche is keep warm. You might be bouncing between sites but remember travel time is included, and as the sun goes down it gets chilly. Wear an extra layer or two if you’re trying for endurance this Saturday.

3. If you plan on enduring the entire night – make sure you get enough sleep. Maybe catch a nap, and take the first couple hours off. Getting out a bit later means that the crowd becomes thinner, which allows you to have a more intimate experience as a viewer. If you take this route, make sure you double check times of the events you’d like to get to as some of them aren’t open the full duration of the festival. Remember, the metro is open all night, no reason to rush!

4. Let yourself be fluid. While it’s best to have a plan, it’s okay if you don’t hit each spot on your list right away. You have all night, and there’s tons of beautiful art of each persuasion to experience.

Here are some of the events I recommend Nuit Blanche 2013:

Catherine Bolduc, Labyrinth (Ikea) (Square-Victoria)

Caroline Dejeneffe, La Naissance, La Vie et La Mort (McGill)

Emily Hermant, Hésitations (Bonaventure)

Matériaux Composites and Marie Eve Fortier, Living Room N˚2: L’effet Tunnel (Square-Victoria)

AS_1_4_F_DuboisFrance Dubois, Nébuleuses (Place-des-Arts)

Vincent Ducarne, Still Lives (Square Victoria)

Luminosonicities, Goethe-Institut (Place-des-Arts)

Every Song I’ve Ever Written, Usince C (Beaudry)

The Divine Comedy, Galerie Bac (Beaubien)

Turn on a Dime, Citizen Vintage (Mont-Royal)

Spaces Between, Mainline Theater (Sherbrooke)

 Nuit Blanche at the CCA

You can also download the Nuit Blanche iPhone/Android app for updates.

A happy Nuit Blanche to all!

After watching Ang Lee grab an Oscar for best director on Sunday, I ventured into our local cinema to watch the film “Life of Pi”, even though I had read some bad reviews in The Guardian and New Yorker. I have to say as an art critic I loved the visual aspects of it, and as an atheist and writer I hated every self-congratulatory, self-righteous second of it all.

book cover-1I knew the story because my brother Siavash had read the book by the Canadian author Yann Martel and due to my badgering spilled the beans about the ambiguous ending afterwards. Yet with the film there was no ambiguity to be found in the end, and we discover that the story had been made up just to entertain, this came as a welcoming surprise because I really couldn’t stomach a lesson in religious doubt and essence of faith. Yet, Yann Martel himself stated: “I’m happy it works so well as a film. Even if the ending is not as ambiguous as the book’s, the possibility that there might be another version of Pi’s story comes at you unexpectedly and raises the same important questions about truth, perception and belief.”

The story revolves around Pi who from the start is exploring his relationship with religions and faith in God. For him confusion never ceases as he is bombarded with different ideologies from every corner. So, I guess inevitably, he decides to practice all religions and believe in mighty forces watching over him. As is always the case with these kinds of stories, our protagonist finds out that only through knowing himself he can love God. I could almost hear Deepak Chopra shouting: “Every person is a God in embryo.”

Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian writes: “the film itself, despite some lovely images and those eyepopping effects, it is a shallow and self-important shaggy-dog story – or shaggy-tiger story – and I am bemused by the saucer-eyed critical responses it’s been getting.” I agree with his description, because the film’s special effects are amazing, and digital creation of the world Pi encounters is just breathtakingly beautiful, but the story lacks the oomph it needs and the double narration, even though great in literature, doesn’t come out well on the screen.

I have to state that I’m not a big fan of 3D, and all the things that were promised to us with renaissance of the technology has faded with sales of 3D television hitting rock bottom. I get headaches every time I watch these movies in cinema, and from my experience with televisions the glasses issue has made it tremendously hard to enjoy a movie. Life of Pi catering for this market, and the fact that all the effects in the movie were designs for the 3D experience really worries me about Ang Lee’s sense of judgement. Why would any director, let alone a celebrated one like Mr Lee decide to create a movie that cannot be enjoyed on DVD? Even if they release it as a normal HD the effects won’t be the same, so why?

life of pi 2From an artistic point of view no one can fault the movie. It is beguiling, mesmerizingly beautiful example of what digital art can do. There are colours and effects that are unmatched by any other film, and you are drawn into a world so hypnotic that you forget every scene has been created using softwares. I know if we look back at it in 10 years’ time we will laugh at ourselves for being so naïve, but for now we can enjoy it as an enticing spectacle and one that should not be missed as long as it is in the cinemas.

However, again the story, apart from the ending, really brings it down in my view. Obama in 2010 wrote a letter to Yann Martel in which he described the book as “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.” Obviously President Obama is not seeking scientific proof and is happy with fiction, however I cannot deny Mr Martel his power of storytelling, because he has written a book that is sold more than 10 million copies, and the fact that this book was rejected no less than five times by publishers, gives us all unpublished writers hope. As for the movie, I would suggest bringing your earplugs and you will have an experience of a lifetime.

nuit-blanche-festival-montreal-lumiereYet another winter festival is upon us! This week kicks off the 14th edition of Montréal En Lumière. From February 21st to March 3rd the city will be filled with theatre, music, dancing, and visual art programming, both indoor and outdoor! While many of the events are hosted indoors have ticket prices, the central outdoor site is free. Throughout Quartier des Spectacles there will be live performances, interactive art  installations, food and drink vendors and of course beautiful lights. In addition to the live entertainment and arts, Place des Festivales has a ferris wheel. There is also a cinematic dome that will screen films, as well as for performances by VJs and DJs providing eye and ear candy. The festivities run until eleven each evening (excluding Sunday).

The event ends with Montreal’s Nuit Blanche on March 2nd. This year will mark the tenth celebration of the all night art festival for Montreal. The downtown site of Montréal En Lumière will remain open until 3 a.m., but there is no lack of things to see. Programming for the event is city wide and has designated spots through quartiers de spectacle, old Montreal, the olympic park, the plateau and mile end, as well as art through the metro stations. There are shuttle buses  provided to get you to and from each happening. Do your best to plan the night accordingly as there’s lots of ground and lots of hours to cover! I’ve experienced Nuit Blanche in several major cities now and am looking forward to seeing how Montreal differs from the rest.

Watch for our complete Nuit Blance preview coming out soon!


It’s the time of the year for red roses, pink champagne, over-sentimentalized cards and silly useless gifts that tend to end up in the closet along with the weight loss paraphernalia you bought after the holidays. Also it is the loneliest time of the year for the majority of the population who are single and find themselves looking hastily for misguided companionship in the most unfortunate places. Been there my friends.

Fortunately I am now married, so the only thing I need to do is think of a better gift than the one my wife is getting me. Nevertheless I want to introduce some artwork that might come handy when considering cards, prints or even reproductions for your special someone. Artwork that would surely impress and bring you extra points in this great manufactured capitalist lie that is Valentine’s Day.

Venus and MarsThe first piece is “Venus and Mars” by the Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli. The work can be found at the UK National Gallery in London, and it is a thoroughly striking piece. The story is that of a love affair between the god of war Mars and goddess of love and beauty Venus who was married at the time. Not to worry my friends, they get punished later on when the matter becomes public so to speak; however this artwork is concerned with the moment that the act of love making has ended.

The painting is symbolic in terms of the triumph of love over war, as Venus has managed to seduce and win over Mars. Yet the scene is tremendously humorous and lighthearted. Mars for all intents and purposes has been drained, exhausted, you might even say passed out. I would like to say the god of war has been conquered. Mars is so out of it that even the little annoying infant Satyrs cannot wake him up. One of them is actually blowing a small conch shell in his ear, alas Mars is too shagged out to react.

Venus has an interesting expression on her face, she almost looks disappointed, displeased and irritated. Could it be that Mars didn’t perform adequately and the artist is anticipating her regret later on when being punished, which is also evident from the bees that hover around Mars? After all if you want some honey you have to take the chance of being stung by the bees, which is actually another story that features Venus and her son Cupid. Other interpretations by art historians read Venus’s expression as that of a peeved lover who wanted more after sex. However you look at it Botticelli paints a scenario that can be tried and true at any time throughout history, I just hope you have happier ending post coitus.

BerniniAnother artwork I want to share with you is “The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa” by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, residing in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome. If you were looking for heavenly love, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than this. Bernini gives you love that is out of this world, beyond description. As words fail to bring to life this ecstasy Saint Teresa felt when she was visited by an angel, Bernini makes marble flow, twist and coil in complete orgasm.

The story comes from St. Teresa’s written account which was tremendously popular in Rome at the time, and people would read it in awe and envy. She writes of the angel piercing her heart with an arrow, however if you look closer at the sculpture you see Bernini’s angel pointing the arrow lower down. This is not just heavenly love; this is very much an earthy human climax. O’ how we fail to take our eyes off of her.  Charles de Brosses visiting in 19th century remarked “If this is divine love, I know all about it.”

Since I couldn’t find a good example of artwork which would appeal to our gay and lesbian community, I decided to create one myself, and so I present to you my “Let it Be”. The inspiration behind the work comes from the battles our gay friends are involved in to secure more rights all over the world. USA, France and UK have been in the news recently concerning the legalization of gay marriage, and the offensive comments uttered by certain opposition groups in those countries really show how much ignorance still exist in the democratic developed countries. I really cannot fathom why some people choose to spread hatred for something so human as expression of unity between two people. Some day we will look back at this period of our lives and wonder why we were so benighted. Wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day.

“The Queen” is the answer to “who’s that on my $20 bill?” More people might feel the urge to ask the question now that the Queen’s portrait is no longer blending into the background. Yes, Queen of England is the first thing you notice when you hold the new bill in your hand, and I’m sure most Canadians know her, but I would imagine more foreigners and immigrants will start to ask why?

Alexander the Great was one of the first leaders who came to the conclusion that having the leader’s portrait on money will establish power and more importantly remind the people who’s in charge. Indeed a human figure is a very compelling image, and one would be hard pressed to forget a face instantly. Before portraits on money, symbols were used to show the hierarchy of power in a territory, but it wasn’t very effective. People need to associate a face with power and that is why Christianity is by far the most successful religion in the world. “Christ, son of God, our lord and saviour” is not just a name; he is a symbol as well as a human figure, and there lies the most important key to the religion’s attraction for the masses.

Back to the Queen and her portrait on our $20 bill, or as the English call it a “Score”. I am not a royalist mostly because I don’t see myself beneath anyone because of family blood or the amount of money they might have inherited. In short, apart from the minute chance of considering the poet laureate position if the day comes, I have no connection with the Queen; I just happen to see her portrait repeatedly in art and on my money.

I will come to the conspiracy theories a little later, but for now let’s just say that the Queen has been well represented in art from all around the world. In fact a gallery has been dedicated to portraits of Her Royal Highness inside her palace, and I want to mention a few that might tweak your interest.

The Queen was a perfect subject for Andy Warhol who endlessly searched for glitz and glamour. I mean if Andy was looking for celebrity, who could have competed with the ever rich and famous Elizabeth II? He sprinkled crushed glass onto her portraits so they would sparkle like diamonds, hence the name diamond-dusted Queens. Four of Warhol’s portraits were acquired by the Royal Collection to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Now to the heavyweight of the art world, Mr Lucian Freud who depicted her in one of the best portraits I’ve seen. Freud did not sugar coat his subject with fancy painting tricks, and in no way tried to enhance her features. In fact the Queen looks displeased and showing her age, which is to be expected as Freud was notorious for making his subjects sit for hours on end. There is nothing grand about the painting; even the size is very small. The critics and the press had a field day with Freud, and the torrents of verbiage that came out just goes to show how unashamedly stupid art critics can be.

Next is the six feet portrait done by the Canadian artist Phil Richards who has depicted the Queen with admiration one expect a schoolboy to have toward his favourite pinup actress posing in front of a Ferrari half naked. Her royal highness looks stately draped in saintly white, and confusingly very much in her prime. It has no links with the reality. It has been painted to be hung in the Royal Palace so people can ignore it as yet another tribute to money and power as they walk by.   

I want to get back to my not so crazy answer as to why the Queen’s portrait has become more prominent on our $20 bill. Let me adjust my aluminium hat, take a sip from my god awful bottle of intoxicant and here we go. The scientist have predicted if emissions go on as they are, we are facing a rise in temperature of about 5 degrees by 2100, and this means that Canada will become the next destination for climate change refugees. The good old United Kingdom is in a very real danger of sinking, and if I were the royal family I would want to find a more appropriate dwelling somewhere that would be better accommodating with pleasant weather, oh I don’t know like Canada. Why look! They already have our portraits on their money. Well, God save the Queen and future King!

L’Ecole Des Beaux-Arts is pulsating with art and energy on Saturday as artists, students and punk rock enthusiasts come together to contemplate a very unique female experience. The Raincoats: Adventures art show, at the top a winding staircase, starts behind an ominous black curtain. Inside, a woman screams wildly.

Cautiously peeling open the curtain, I crash into the chest of a sheepish-looking young man. He apologizes and sails down the stairs to the lobby. God, what’s happening in there? Then I see her – the screamer – the frame focused tightly around her face, catching a moment of sheer anguish and vulnerability. The screams come in long, deep bursts, like mad howls. The audience of five, scattered awkwardly about the tiny room, stares helplessly.

When the screen splits in two, it’s the same girl – screaming wildly on one side, laughing hysterically on the other. Words like rioutous, chaotic, girly, sexual and unapologetic float over the screen, bringing the female experience of a different time and place into focus. She is at once a little girl, vulnerable and afraid, and a young woman with something important to say. The louder she screams, the louder she laughs, and so it goes for eight painfully intriguing minutes. But somehow, even when the film closes around its quiet end, I can’t help wondering if that girl is still screaming today.

“Scream” is one of Gina Birch’s first forays into cinema. It was filmed in 1978, a time when the punk rock wave, that had swamped the country in the early 70s, was evolving into a more reserved and experimental movement. The post-punk era was a unique time for women and, for Birch, it opened up a space for girls to do things they hadn’t done before.

Birch’s shoe paintings, dating from 1977-2011, and also on display at l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts for POP Montreal, bring the stories of a female punk rocker to life through the shoes she wore at different times in her life. Through them, one can begin to understand what it meant for a woman to join the male-dominated party scene at London’s famous punk rock nightclub, The Roxy, or catch a glimpse of Birch’s personal and hyper-female experience of working in the “real world.” Her paintings cleverly turn the ordinary into an extraordinary and uniquely powerful storytelling tool.

Birch’s visual art simultaneously mirrors and feeds off her work as a musician. She and art school friend Ana da Silva started The Raincoats in 1977. And though Birch admits that in her youth she had no idea how to play her instrument or a gig, the band went on to enjoy huge success in the underground, post-punk scene of the time and become a major inspiration to the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s. It was the rawness and vulnerability and breaking of barriers that bands like Sonic Youth and Nirvana hailed them for. Determination and inventiveness propelled them to the top of their game.

Birch has grown up since the early days of the post-punk scene, but certainly hasn’t lost the playfulness and wild female energy that fuelled her artistic career. Her art, whether through the raw wailing of her bass guitar, an extraordinary story through ordinary means, or the frightening power of a girl lost in a scream, brings to life a very unique and inspiring female experience of a different time and place.