Friday, January 19, 2007

Dancing in Paradise: the Rats Take Over

De notre correspondant à Montréal

The latest installation at the artist-run centre Skol was a must see this Friday, if only for its unusual and rather unsettling character. The performance put in place by the centre conceptualized a self-critique of the modern world we operate in. Although the idea presented by the team wasn’t remotely new - consumerism, capitalism and materialism blur our daily lives with unnecessary clutter – the performance managed to capture the attention of all, and to create a unique moment in time as the performance would only occur once.

Entitled Dancing in Paradise the installation featured dancers mimicking rats - adorned by plastic large murine ears - ravaging a fridge. As viewers, we were invited to watch from the outside, peeping onto the stage as voyeurs eager to catch every move of the swift animals. The performance was played out on a stage consisting of a conveyor belt recalling our weekly trips to the supermarket. Bathed in the music of Montreal composer Merlin Ettore, the rats sauntered in this metaphorical white space bringing on to their stage the objects of everyday consumption.

Giant size sushi roles first lend themselves to the dance, followed by a massive permanent marker wielded by the female rat as a sexual consumption tool. Ironically, the entire space – which was cramped, stuffy and awkwardly shaped – seemed more like a toaster oven than a fridge. When the organizer of the exhibit had confided in me that the rats would come from everywhere, I must admit that I hadn’t quite believed her. However, after being groped by a crawling rat making its way to the stage I soon understood that it wasn’t a joke. After about twenty minutes of performance, the stage was silent again and the young artsy looking crowd made its way back to the exit, seemingly satisfied by the spectacle.

Performance art is for some the contemporary form of the traditional painted canvas: yet in the making before your very eyes, and is, as in Dancers in Paradise, a one-time experience. The stage and decor will however be on display until February 10th, letting new viewers investigate the space.

Dancing in Paradise runs until February 10th, at Skol Gallery on 372 Rue St Catherine W, room 314. For more information visit or call at 514 398 9322.