I’d gone to Montreal for a conference and, because I fell in love with the city, decided to stay a few more days to explore it. I was with my travel companion, a woman who’s working on a start-up site about art, and she asked me to tag along with her to check out Montreal’s contemporary art scene.
At our second stop, a very nice attendant made small talk and asked about our art-hopping plans. Maybe I looked as bored as I was because the attendant asked if I was enjoying the trek. “I like the pretty colors, but ... ,” I said. I’m not that shallow, I swear. I just have a preference for art that is bold and in my face.
“What’s next?” the attendant asked. My companion told her we were headed to “Come and See” by British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman at DHC/ART.
She looked alarmed. “I haven’t seen it, but ‘depressing’ was how a friend described it. Wanna see?” She punched a few strokes on her computer keyboard and invited us to take a look at her screen.
There were various images of Ronald McDonald being crucified. It was one scene in an extraordinarily detailed display of miniatures that looked like something out of the zombie scenes inWorld War Z. I clicked the “about” link that explained the exhibit. The leading themes of the brothers’ work: “morality, religion, sex, death and philosophy.” Apparently they have a thing for critiquing the “-isms”: capitalism, consumerism, imperialism, extremism, racism, etc. Cool. This sounded more my speed.
At the exhibit, a very nice man greeted us cheerfully at the entrance. He pointed down a hall, indicating that we should begin there. At the top of a short set of stairs was a summary of what I read on the website. I skimmed through it quickly, but my partner in crime must have read faster because she moved on first. I don’t know if I heard her gasp first or caught her flinching in my peripheral vision.
“What?” I asked, genuinely concerned since, like me, she’s not prone to dramatic reactions.
“Oh, hell no,” I said. I stepped back to the very edge of the stairs. I should be more careful about what I ask for.
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