Art Matters. Indeed it does. Concordia’s annual student-run festival to celebrate art enters its 15th year this week. The two-week festival features art in all fields by Concordia undergrads and invited artists. Already, there’s been a launch party and an event at the Nuit Blanche. This week, throughout the city, galleries and venues will showcase curated gallery shows. I spoke to outreach coordinator Laurent Viau-Lapointe about the festival.
Rachel Levine (RL): Can you introduce Art Matters to me and tell me a bit about the team?
Laurent Viau-Lapointe (LV): It’s the biggest student run festival of its kind in North America and we’re proud of this. It’s the 15th year this year. It’s interesting because it’s a new team every year. For me it’s been an amazing experience. I’m the Outreach Coordinator and I spent a full year and learning how an arts festival works from the bottom. There’s a whole level of executives, and curators and artists. Claudia Edwards is the coordinator of exhibitions and she did all the pairing with the galleries and art centres and curators. Edwin Isford is the administrative coordinator and handles the bureaucratic side of it – permits and business. Overall, we have 11 events and 18 curators. We also have special events like the Nuit Blanche, which was organized by two members of our Board of Directors. Everybody involved on different levels benefits from the experience.
RL: You’re also a student, right?
LV: Yes. Because I’m an artist and have a job too, I’m part-time at Concordia.
RL: How do you find people to participate in Art Matters?
LV: It depends. For all the executive members and curators, it’s interviewed based. We build our team from scratch and then we have a big call out for artists and curators to come and we pick from that pool Usually we take two full days to look at all applications. We found it so crazy. We get to spend a few minutes on every one and it’s hard. This year we decided to give a full week to the graders so they can go through all the applications and reflect on them. Then there’s a jurying day where the curators resolve the conflicts between themselves.
RL: How did you get started in Art Matters?
LV: I knew about Art Matters in 2012 because I did a performance. I was just an artist. The following year, I coordinated the Nuit Blanche event. I had 17 artists and collectives. It was a big night and really fun. I wanted to work in the festival.
RL: What can we expect at the different venues? Tell me a few of them, please.
LV: The curators organize their own events. Florencia Sosa Rey and Luisina Sosa Rey coordinate the Archipel exhibition at Galerie Espace (4844 St. Laurent) and invited the relational artist Massimo Guerrera who is doing a lot of relational art for over 15 – 20 years in Montreal to do a workshop. I’m curious how you can do a workshop around relational aesthetics. As well, The Tall Glass curated by Aaliyeh Afshar and Max Taeuschel at Perte de Signal (5455 de Gaspe #107) a new media artists centre. It’s relocating to a brand new locale. I think it will be interesting exhibition. You can not hang anything on the wall. I’ll see how the curators work around that. Also we’re proud this year to bring in the trend focusing group, K-HOLE from New York. They’re probably known best for coining the term normcore.
RL: Do you think you will continue to work on art festivals?
LV: I’m passionate about organizing the arts and the timing of this job is perfect because a lot of people in the team have the will to continue. Working in a festival is so crazy and effervescent. There’s a real buzz when everything starts. For me, it’s one of the best things I’ve done. I’m both an artist and musician and one of my dreams is starting a record label or booking shows.
Art Matters launch party takes place March 6 at Theatre Plaza (6505 ST. Hubert) at 9 p.m. Saxsyndrum, The Famines, Rollie, and Pascale Project are playing. The League of Lady Wrestlers of Montreal will be doing performances through the night too. Events and exhibits can be found HERE.The festival runs until March 21.