Lisa and I have never spent this much time in Montréal before. Usually, we arrive one day and have to leave the next. This four-day Thanksgiving weekend, though, has given us the opportunity to spend some extra time doing extra things. (That is to say, this weekend wasn’t just a food booty call.) We actually had to figure out some extra things to do.
So what have we done? We went to three churches yesterday (Chapelle Notre-Dame-des-Bonsecours, Saint Patrick’s, and Basilique Notre-Dame) and to the Oratoire Saint-Joseph today. We aren’t religious people, but we do really enjoy the artistry and architecture of churches. (And the really interesting stories—like the one about the theft of the heart of St.-André, the Brother responsible for building the Oratory. And I don’t mean “he gave his heart to Christ.” No! In the 70s, someone stole his actual heart from the reliquary at the oratory. It’s back now.)
It’s basically the same reason that we enjoy going to art museums. I’m a big fan of photography, 19th century French painting, and Aboriginal/Native American/Inuit arts, while Lisa likes to take it all in. But our brains have trouble—we are not ashamed to say—with contemporary art. Let’s face it, a lot of it is just shit. I know, I know; I’m being very judgmental. However, in a post-modern world where it doesn’t matter what the artists’ intentions were, it’s completely up to us as the viewers to ascribe value. And a lot of it is just boring, unapproachable, poorly executed, or (worst of all) irrelevant.
So why did we go to the Musée d’Art Contemporaine yesterday? Well, why not? You have to speculate to accumulate in the art world. You never know what you might like until you see it. Besides, it was hosting the Québec Art Trienale: “The Work Ahead.” If you want to see what’s coming up, an -ale is a pretty good, very avante garde way to do it.
The sad thing is that the “Big Bang” exhibit of Canadian artists at the newly renovated Musée des Beaux Arts was head-and-shoulders better than the trienale exhibit. Is that an indictment of the MDAC or of Québec artists? I don’t know. Probably neither. I will say, though, that the smaller museum’s inclusion of video art was interesting (to me).
Between bouts of art-watching and church-hopping, we shopped a bit and ate delicious food and walked around and basically enjoyed ourselves. It was, incredibly, the nicest weather we’ve ever had on our five trips to Montréal. (And the weather never touched 50ºF!)
Until next time, Québec.