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5 forward-thinking artists to discover at La Biennale de Montréal

Crédit photo : Shirin Neshat, "Illusions and Mirrors" (2013) / Courtesy of La Biennale de Montreal
5 forward-thinking artists to discover at La Biennale de Montréal
La Biennale de Montréal is shaking off the past, with a citywide exhibition dedicated to fate, futurity and looking forward. BNL MTL 2014 is one big mama jama of a show, offering up 150 contemplative pieces (video installations, sculptures, multimedia works, etc.), 25 of which are original creations by national and international artists. Let's look at five works that may push you past the present (or just give you pause for thought).
 
 
1. Eternity by Nicholas Baier
One of your best bets for BNL selfie souvenirs (I counted at least seven gallery goers covertly snapping pix), Nicholas Baier’s Eternity consists of an undulating, mirror-finish, unriveted (yet highly riveting) stainless steel curtain rising ten feet from the floor. A reflective funhouse wonder, the sculpture is six feet wide and clocks in at a whopping twenty-five feet in length. The endless undulations of the piece do serve a purpose – they form a sidelong view of the word “Eternity”, a word one can only see from on high. As the biennale does not provide ladders or jetpacks to rise to the top of the sculpture, you’ll just have to take the artist’s word that the word is up there.
 
2. Hexen 2.0 Tarot by Susanne Treister
Though the entirety of Susanne Treister’s Hexen 2.0 project is fascinating, I was especially taken with her take on the Tarot deck. The Lovers, The Fool and The Seven of Swords have never seemed so linked to modern times. As a jumping off point for the project, Treister used The Macy Conferences of 1946−1953 (a fascinating cross-pollination of science and psychic phenomena), whose stated objective was to “set the foundations for a general science of the workings of the human mind.” From witchcraft to war to the World Wide Web, Hexen 2.0 will set your mind to reeling.
 
3.  Time Machine by Ann Lislegaard
Speaking of mirror reflections and astral projections, why not take a moment to listen to a fox prattle on about the ways of the world(s). It worked for Le Petit Prince, and it could certainly work for you. In Time Machine, a computer-animated fox stutters through an account of his visit to the future. Difficult to follow, the tale occasionally slides into incoherence – frustrating at times, but ultimately beguiling.
 
4. Touching Reality by Thomas Hirschhorn
WARNING: This is hard to watch. Even for those who feel they are desensitized to violence and gore. You may only be able to stand in that darkened room for a few minutes, but what you will see will stay with you for hours.
 
5. 400 Nudes by Jillian Mayer
On my way out of the MAC, I chanced upon Mayer’s free collectible card set up. At first, I didn’t understand what I was looking at, but then, as I kept scanning the hundreds of oddly angled photos, it became all too clear. “Oh God,” I thought, “this is what the world has come to.” 400 Nudes frustrated me, challenged me, humbled me, and threw into question my waxing and Photoshopping skills. Bravo, Mayer. Bravo.

La Biennale de Montréal
October 22, 2014 through January 4, 2015
bnlmtl2014.org