Elektra festival – part 2: the exhibitions

Previously: Elektra festival – part 1

The Elektra festival which closed a few days ago in Montréal might have a website design which i find difficult to explain in 2010, but that didn’t prevent its programme to be remarkable. The agenda of live events was particularly outstanding with performances by Aoki Takamasa and Edwin van der Heide for example. I wish i could have seen Blake Carrington‘s Cathedral Scan which scans, analyzes and reveals through sound the architectural structure of the buildings (usually gothic cathedrals) where the event takes place. I missed it courtesy of my inseparable friend the jetlag. What no desynchronosis could prevent me from seeing though was the festival’s selection of installations and sculptures.

Exhibitions were all over the city center and that’s probably one of the major strengths of Elektra. Its collaboration with fine art galleries and art centers helped spread media art outside of its tightly-knit family and bring it to a larger audience. I’m going to highlight the artworks i found most interesting – either for their quality or simple because i had not written about them before. Many of them could be found at the city’s hotspot of contemporary art: the Belgo building.


The exterior of the former industrial building doesn’t betray its conversion to a place of glam and culture. Facade is rather plain. Ground floor is all blah shops and Starbuck’s coffee. But if you get inside and hop on one of the freight elevators, you’ll soon realize that Belgo is packed, floor after floor, with white wall galleries, dance studios teaching capoeira, and photo studios

My first stop was at the Galerie PUSH to seeZimoun‘s quietly buzzing 216 prepared dc-motors


216 small motors aligned against a white framed wooden canvas, activate a rain of metallic wires. The ensemble functions as an instrument both artificial and organic in nature.

Next stop was for the Joyce Yahouda Gallery to see Pascal Dufaux’s photographic automaton. Le cosmos dans lequel nous sommes (The cosmos in which we are) captures and transcribes images and video-kinetic sequences in real time, following a continuous hypocycloidal motion, inside the gallery. The images are projected on one of the walls of the room. The artist is also showing a series of stills taken with the automaton.


During his presentation at the festival, the artist explained how the work is Inspired by the now almost ubiquitous surveillance cameras. According to Dufaux, surveillance cameras have something in common with the daguerreotypes of the 19th century: both have been a bit of a shock to the public because it confronted them with a reality which had never been so blunt before. CCTV images reflect a rough and unfiltered reality. Le cosmos dans lequel nous sommes offers an experience of visuality where mediatized and immediate perceptions play with one another. The spectator and location become the object and subject of a singular “mise en abyme”.

00araomanhhj89.jpgDrop frame, Visage dans la nuit, 2009

0adropframej8.jpgDrop frame, Dos aux miroirs, 2009

Dufaux comes from a fine art background which probably explains why Le cosmos dans lequel nous sommes functions so well as a sculpture.

Video by Eloi Desjardins

The work is on view until May 29 at the Joyce Yahouda Gallery.

Adad Hannah didn’t have any work exhibited in the festival (unless i’ve missed something) but he gave an engaging presentation during Amplified Spaces, one of the festival’s conferences. He shots videos which are more animated than the tableaux vivants that inspired them but are nevertheless almost totally silent and almost totally still. the Burghers of Seoul for example takes its cue on Rodin’s sculpture The Burghers of Calais (1884-1895). The artists cast motorcycle couriers, the fast and humble messengers who keep the South Korean capital working, and recreated the poses and drama of the famous sculpture.

The last project he presented is the antithesis of all this patient and quiet work. It’s the International Dance Party he developed together with Niklas Roy. I tried it a year ago in Amsterdam. Worked flawlessly and thank god, there was no one in the room at that time of the day to see me use it.