Novas Contemporary Urban Centre, Greenland Street
20th September - 2nd November 2008 (Tue-Sun 11am - 6pm)
The Novas Contemporary Urban Centre is currently playing host to a selection of intriguing work by Canadian artists, which have each featured in past Québec City Biennials. This convergence of two biennials in a small corner of Liverpool is appropriately organised around the theme of 'meeting', though this is often interpreted so loosely as to be lost on this reviewer.
A case in point is Le siècle des Lumières (The centuries of lights) by Doyon and Rivest. In one sense, the 'idea' of a constellation meets the 'idea' of people's faces being lit up by laptops, iPods and mobiles, creating what at first sight appears to be a constellation but is actually people's faces being lit up by laptops, iPods and mobiles. In another, every piece of artwork ever created (indeed every action) synthesises things, so the motif is stretched to apparent meaninglessness. Still, clever effect.
Catholic icon of Jesus meets dartboard in Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart) by Jean-Marc Mathieu-Lajoie. Hitting his forehead is worth sixty points, whilst the representation of divine love for humanity is bullseye. This exhibit is bound to provoke some outrage, but then Saint Sebastian is always portrayed with arrows, and people seem to like that, so this may be an allusion to him and martyrdom somehow.
Similarly, Diane Landry mixes stuff she's found ('assisted readymades' to you) with religious symbolism, with her Mandalas in series Blue Decline. These automated installations suggest the cosmos, like charts in Indian religions. However, these ones are made out of washing baskets, empty water bottles, a spoon, and electronics. The effect of watching them is indeed evocative, and brought up thoughts of nature out of balance (like I don't always have them anyway). Kind of the same, but slightly different, to traditional mandalas.
Finally, Polish-born 'Modern Day Nomad Who Moves Where She Pleases' Ana Rewakowicz has created a 'sleepingbagdress' - that is, a dress that turns into a sleeping bag, and a sort of inflatable tent where the gallerygoer can watch videos of public interventions projected on one of the sides, so long as they take their shoes off first.
Effectively, there is no overarching theme, other than the fact that all these people have been on one point on the globe and now their art is in another, which is well worth a look if you're in the area.