Yesterday afternoon Montreal's Belgo building hummed with activity. Visitors to the building's art galleries clutched 'ralley maps' which guided them on a tour of discovery, following troupes of musicians and dancers as they performed in the Belgo's galleries. The sounds of drums, cellos, saxophones and voices echoed through the corridors as art lovers pushed in and out of exhibition spaces.
This event, titled "BELGOrientation", was conceived and organized by Toronto musician Scott Thomson. Thomson is a Board member for the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto (AIMToronto) and has organized other site-specific improvised music events there. Now he has taken his talents to Montreal and with the help of the contemporary music compay SuperMusique invaded the Belgo.
I was lucky to host two performances in my Visual Voice Art Gallery. The first was a cello performance by Mélanie Auclair, accompanied by dancer Emmanuel Jouthe. Auclair's improvised cello piece was fantastic - haunting, dark, atmospheric, with echoes of Elgar's dramatic phrasing. She had dropped by the gallery only ten minutes before her performance to get a feel of the space and have a look at the art on the wall (some of my "Somnium" and "Moon Series" paintings). I don't know how much inspiration Auclair derived from the artwork, but it's clear that Jouthe interacted very directly with the paintings. He arrived about ten minutes late. Jouthe inserted himself quietly into the audience, and then started acting weirder and weirder: getting very close to the paintings, nearly touching them with his face, then circling around the suspended piece "Europa" in larger and larger orbits. Only when he flung himself into the corner behind the cellist, undulating to her tortured sounds, did it finally dawn on everyone that he was the dancer!
The second performance was by the dance duo Julie Lassonde and Nicolas Filion, who performed to the percussion piece by Pierre Tanguay. Tanguay came equipped with a strap-on drum set and a yazoo and really let it rip. Lassonde and Filion raced through the gallery, flung themselves on the floor, chased each other - it was quite spectacular. My gallery is a pretty small space, and it's amazing how they made the most of it. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Sadly I was 'stuck' in my gallery and wasn't able to check out the performances taking place in the other galleries. Rumour has it that the performance in Galerie B-312 included a live chicken! If you saw that one, please leave me a comment!
All in all, the BELGOrientation was successful in merging visual arts with dance and music, adding a new dynamic to the building that I hope will continue to florish. Kudos to Scott Thomson and SuperMusique!