Sometimes we use art to cling to immortality: we’ll produce to be remembered, and our expressions become our flesh. Sort of like laminating ourselves. But the permanency of a product can carry so much weight that it can catapult the importance of the process, that visceral act of mindfulness, from site. To challenge this idea, enter Beaux Dégâts, a Montreal art event. At first glance Beaux Dégâts might look like ‘just another hipster-grunge’ event, choreographed with trendy finger tats. But nay, it’s actually part of a movement that holds a considerable amount of cred. A movement that calls attention to the latent talent in non-conventional art, accessibility to the masses and the ephemeral reality of street art. Though it’s presenter, Fresh Painted Gallery, primarily highlights the event as a play between street realities and gallery settings, Beaux Dégâts really is a celebration of the expressive moment, of the electricity in the process. How? Read on.
Djs, grungy youths, famous tattoo artists, graphic designers, street expressionists, and, of course, Pabst beer cans congregate together in Montreal’s Foufounes Electroniques to create an environment that fuels an artist’s high and emphasizes interaction. Translating to “beautiful damage” or “fine damage” [word play from ‘fine arts’], the event calls for small groups of top urban artists to compete in spontaneous interpretation: each group is given a canvas, a theme and 2 hours to create amidst the pulse of Dj beats and swarming crowd energy. The catch: only one group will get to keep their product. The rest are trashed by the winning group, in an ode to the temporal nature of expression. Or put simply, the street-art reality of ‘having some asshole tag over your work’. And the choice is a part of the interaction. The crowd casts their vote democratically. The ballet? You guessed it [or did you?], an empty Pabst beer can, cast into the artist’s garbage bin.
The Aug. 6th general theme was hip-hop icons. Each team was given an artist/group to interpret on canvas: Wu-tang Clan, KRS-ONE, A Tribe Called Quest, De la Soul, and Public Enemy. Naturally, in the end they all looked pretty epic; these people are no amateurs. But a group called “The Woodland Creatures”, long-standing champions, took the prize once again with their interpretation of Wu-tang Clan. I’m not saying it’s easy to watch a girl in a wolf mask trash your art work, but hey, it’s about the process.
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