William Robinson: After talking with Étienne Tremblay-Tardif about cyberpunk cultures and the ways in which they frame our understanding of technology and art, I asked him what interested him about curating.
ETT: Coming from a print making background, I am very interested in all the possible permutations of the multiple. I am also interested in what it means for value, access and even a certain idea of community. Not so much in the sense of social interaction, but what happens to all the people who own the same image? As a curator I am interested in laying a problem and inviting interesting people to consider and interact with it. I think the participating artists are going to have different opinions. For instance, is it 30 artworks or 1 artwork in 30 copies? Or considering the low cost of the purchase and the cost of materials, are these “cheap artworks” and what would that mean? What place do these artworks have in the continuum of artists making works that are expensive or even priceless?
WR: Do you see any risks that artists undertake in participating in Partage?
ETT: In a purely mathematical way, we would think there is no risk and I think that the structure of Partage is well built in that respect. I also think artists are passionate people and that they will often break their budgets to make works. Art-making is a money hole and even quite successful artists inject a lot of money before becoming commercially successful.
WR: Why did you decided to invite pairs of artists?
ETT: I hesitated a long time, considering the financial constraints placed upon them. What does the artist fee becomes when the remainder from the production budget it split in two? That said, I thought this could trigger interesting responses with regards to things like: signature; who gets to do what; what are the kinds of workflow?; are the pair equal?; how do negotiations between artists impact the work? Even then, the whole idea of collaboration in art has a whole range of possibilities. I am inviting three established pairs of artists who have previously worked together, while also having strong solo art practice. I also invited three artists to whom I might relay my responsibility of curator to. Asking them, who do you want to work with? This shift in curatorial power has already brought forth interesting questions in the pairs that are forming with this experiment.
Weird Questions about Montreal
WR: Its 4pm and you are starving. You can be anywhere in the city, but you have only 3 to 5 dollars to spend on your special snack. What do you buy?
ETT: Onigiri. I call them the “tasty triangles.” I get them at Vua on St-Denis and de Maisonneuve. Its stuffed rice wrapped in algae.
WR: You have to go on a first date and it is going to be for drinks. Where are you going and what is the drink you are going to recommend?
ETT: Oh my god, me and my partner like to stay home a lot. I don’t know where the cool places are. I live in the center of the half-gentrified, half-old Hochelaga, and there are a lot of nice bars and restaurants there. The last time I went out, I went to Mr. Smith. It is both really douchey and really hipster and you are supposed to talk but there is a DJ and a tiny dance floor. They have pretty good food and a long list of champagne and a wide selection of gin and tonics. I really love the architecture.
WR: Your friend from out of town bought the Montreal guide book and they have already been to all the classic Montreal sites. What is the place that is not in the guide book that they should know about?
ETT: Over the last few years I have been looking at the Turcot refurbishing project. It is like the seedy underbelly of Montreal. It is a massive interchange topping at 100 feet high. There used to be a neighborhood there but now it is this dividing line between NDG and St-Henri. You could do a really bigaré type of walk. This is a particularly interesting feature of Montreal where neighborhoods are so different but so close to each other.
WR: Someone is going to stay in Friday night and they want a media experience to blow their minds. What is going to blow their minds?
ETT: Montreal-related, 24 heures ou plus by Gilles Groulx. It has a quite bombastic and political tone to it.
WR: I am going to take up an entire wall in your apartment and have someone produce a giant sized autograph to cover it. Who’s is it?
ETT: I am not sure what people’s autographs look like so I am not going to choose it on aesthetic principle. That is a good one to think about. Hmm….. I am hesitating. Would I go for a social or political figure? It is probably going to be a fan answer. I was surprised by how good the new David Bowie music video was. I am too young to be a David Bowie fan, but he keeps coming back as the ultimate living icon. I am not a fan of fanculture, but for David Bowie I would take an autograph.