Wednesday, May 13, 2015

trip report - Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

It was a chilly, rainy April day in Montréal. My better half was attending a conference for some obscure software thingy and I had tagged along to spend a few days exploring. One of my favorite places to go in a new city is an art museum. I prefer modern art if I can get it. Montréal has several art museums within walking distance of Vieux-Montréal, where we were staying. I was off for the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. But the rain and the cold...

The inhabitants of Montréal have that figured out. There is an underground city with passages that go just about everywhere one would want to go. It's accessible through subway stations, buildings and random street corners. One simply walks about looking for signs that say "RESO" and down one goes. I traveled from the convention center to the modern art museum all underground, through a 3 story bustling shopping mall with a huge fountain - dry and warm. 

The museum itself was delightful, if smallish. The two exhibits I enjoyed the most happened to both be video pieces.  The first was an actual movie called "The Column" that showed the creation of a marble column from the quarry to the finished piece. The carvers worked on it on board a container ship crossing the ocean, which made the process of carving almost surreal. Maybe I was tired from the long walk, but I sat there engrossed through the whole thing.

The other piece was a room full of several large "canvases" on which video projections of the backs of people's heads facing the ocean.  After the viewer was totally convinced this was all there was, the people would turn to face the camera and then fade out, to start the scene again with the backs of their heads showing.  There are several people and the timings were such that the viewer felt compelled to wait until everyone had turned around.  Part of the allure was the mesmerizing effect of the waves and the extraordinary size of the screens.


All in all, it was a enjoyable exploration.  Returning, I stopped for a tea in the underground mall and watched some day care kids parading around the gardens built around the fountain. There were raised wooden platforms to walk on and a small stage where the kids could climb around. They looked to be about 3 years old, all holding a long piece of fabric their teacher had anchored in her belt and singing cute little French songs.