Culture  Culture Brief: The Video Potluck

While fans of electronic music were at Igloofest dancing in the freezing weather, and patate aficionados were celebrating Montreal’s Poutine Week, artists and art enthusiasts from Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal were gathering at an art gallery in Little Italy to experience a “video potluck,” in which attendees bring food, drinks, and videos of their choice to share with everyone.

This video potluck was part of the exhibition Grace Notes organized by Vancouver curator, writer, and art critic Stacey Ho. Grace Notes is a screening of videos curated and selected by Ho, with visuals chosen for their graceful themes. The event was held at WWTWO, an art gallery and curatorial platform at 170 Jean-Talon West. WWTWO is operated by artists Willie Brisco and Danielle St. Amour. St. Amour was recently featured in Blouin Artinfo’s list of Canada’s “Top 30 Under 30” artists.

The videos were projected on a big white wall, and the crowd was composed of diverse artists, musicians, videographers, and curious onlookers. Notable among the crowd was Neal Rockwell, a Montreal-based photographer and filmmaker, who screened the world premiere of his film about depression, “Hosts Of The Dead.” Also present was the Toronto-based experimental artist Zeesy Powers, who came to Montreal to shoot another season of Subjects, a reality TV show. Subjects has different people expressing themselves in their mother tongue during a private session in front of a camera, in order to explore the theme of words and their meaning.

The most interesting aspect of this exhibition was its participatory, conversational nature. Unlike a normal video screening, the audience of Grace Notes was not just there to watch and discuss video arts chosen by the curator; they were also there to share videos they liked and work they made themselves. The participants were glad for the opportunity to have their work seen and admired.

Jean-Marc Perin, a studio art major at Concordia University, liked the whole concept of sharing indie video works, though he is not really a big fan of video art. “Usually, the distribution is very limited, so it’s good to have a place for people to share copies of [their work],” Perin said.

Grace Notes is the first video potluck that Stacey Ho has ever organized. When asked how she came up with this idea, she said, “I have a lot of friends here, and I wanted them to come to see what I’ve been doing. And I was just trying to think of the nicest way that we could all hang out together and just do some art thing. […] I wanted the way the program was presented to be more open to the participation of the people who came to see it. I thought that when the exhibition closed, it would be nice to do something warm; have people bring food, and have people watch what they want.”