Saturday, November 04, 2006

Our last day in Montreal

We spent our last morning in Montreal at the Musee d'art contemporaine de Montreal, the only major contemporary art museum in Canada. We saw several pieces in the permanent collection, as well as exhibitions of German painter Neo Rauch and Canadian conceptual artist Rodney Graham. A couple of the Graham pieces were fascinating, and included the artist's insertion of himself into famous moments in art history. My favorite, however, was a kind of "Monty Python meets Samuel Beckett" film called Loudhailer, in which Graham plays a RCMP standing on a stalled seaplane, yelling for help through a megaphone.

Loudhailer utilizes a pair of unsynchonized 35mm films with accompanying unsynchronized audio cds. You can barely understand what Graham is saying, but you know that he is in distress. He delivers a lengthy speech about possible damage done to the craft and about the need for rescue, and he yells, over and over, "Get me a dinghy!" "I need a dinghy!" The voice is distorted, the plane is distorted, and the relationship between Graham and the plane is distorted. And of course, rescue never materializes--there is just Graham's continuous monotone babble.

Another Graham piece of interest was his full-size silver "jewelry" rendition of Elvis Presley's back door.

When we came out of the museum, we were greeted by marchers protesting Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper's ties to big oil.

It is hard to find a good cup of tea in this heavily French city.

It is easy, however, to find a homeless person. They are everywhere.

When we were in British Columbia eleven years ago, Quebec was having one of its periodic snits with the rest of the country, and considering succession from the Canadian government. These flare-ups occur every once in a while, and one of the results of this sensitivity is that it is against the law to post public signs in any language but French in Montreal. The city really is bilingual, however, and easy to negotiate.

I wish we could have gone to Quebec City, but there was no time.


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