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More than just music

Art POP features visual artist Dan Graham

Art POP continues to be one of the most remarkable aspects of POP Montreal, mostly because it is an affordable (in fact, free) alternative to the other shows. For all its perceived accessibility, POP has some important shortcomings in fully living up to its reputation. To be sure, prices for the festival are lower than other local festivals (I’m looking at you, Osheaga), but the festival still is not completely accessible, to both audiences and local artists.

It is important, then, that the festival’s visual art component showcased an array of rising artists in their headquarters, Quartiers Pop. This year, the festival featured local artists, as well as semi-established artists with lots of buzz surrounding them, like Brooklyn-based Cory Arcangel and UK Turner Prize winner Elizabeth Price, whose work is to be presented at the Musée d’art contemporain later this month.

During the first day of the festival, Price gave a talk in which she presented excerpts from her recent work in video. Following her presentation, Symposium and Art POP co-hosted a talk with New York-based conceptual artist Dan Graham, known for his sculptural and installation work. Graham presented excerpts of the video documentation of “Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty,” a satirical marionette show poking fun at the baby boomer generation and their psychedelic sensibilities.

The live performance of “Don’t Trust Anyone over Thirty,” which premiered in 2004, was recorded and projected at the POP headquarters during the first night of the festival. Yet, mostly due to technical insufficiencies ­– a very small screen and unclear sound – the numbers in the audience started dwindling and by the end of the recording almost half of the attendants had left. Aside from this, the excerpts themselves did not provide enough material for a clear understanding of Graham’s performance. The selection of clips for the talk did not effectively evoke the ethos or aesthetic mission of the performance, leaving viewers to interact with a set of moving images that were almost impossible to relate to. With more meticulous curatorial oversight, and perhaps better technical capabilities, Graham’s talk could have truly lived up to its POP-level expectations.