Thirteen Black Cats

BNLMTL 2016 – The Grand Balcony

Curator: Philippe Pirotte

Artist: Thirteen Black Cats

October 21, 2016 - December 10, 2016

Opening: October 20, 2016, 5:30 pm

La Biennale de Montréal and the Galerie de l’UQAM are presenting the work New York collective Thirteen Black Cats, as part of BNLMTL 2016 – The Grand Balcony.Thirteen Black Cats will premiere Corpse Cleaner, a short film that addresses the legacy of atomic power in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The 2016 edition of La Biennale de Montréal calls for a materialist and sensualist approach. It recasts the pursuit of sensual pleasures, making a case for its decisive role in everyday life and political decision-making. The Grand Balcony bets on the liberating potential of art and invites us to rethink both the (im)possibility of an emancipation through pleasure – and its urgency.

The exhibition

Corpse Cleaner, the latest film produced by the research and production collective Thirteen Black Cats, focuses on the letters exchanged between Claude Eatherly, the air force pilot whose “all clear” weather report enabled the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and Günther Anders, the German philosopher, theorist and anti-nuclear activist whose work fixated on technology’s capacity to outpace human intention.

As a voice-over retells the content of the letters, we learn that Hollywood producer Bob Hope approached Eatherly to make a film about his life. Anders actively encouraged Eatherly to refuse the offer. A former movie prop cleaner in the Hollywood Custom Palace, Anders claimed that the Hollywood apparatus would not be able to process this “fatal act”.

BNLMTL 2016 – The Grand Balcony

This edition of La Biennale de Montréal draws loosely on Jean Genet’s Le Balcon, in which the play’s high porch is a space of contestation between revolution and counter-revolution, reality and illusion. As stated by curator Philippe Pirotte, “The Grand Balcony is simultaneously playful and fatalistic in its presentation of rooms, corridors and balconies. Deflecting every attempt to fit in or create an overarching narrative, to be introduced into a system of classification or to be pinned down, the exhibition becomes a place of fallacy, where things can go astray”. The Grand Balcony was conceptualized and curated by Philippe Pirotte in consultation with curatorial advisors Corey McCorkle, Aseman Sabet and Kitty Scott, and in close collaboration with Sylvie Fortin, Executive and Artistic Director of La Biennale de Montréal. bnlmtl.org

The artists

Thirteen Black Cats is a research and production collective based in New York, founded by Lucy Raven, Evan Calder Williams and Vic Brooks. thirteenblackcats.org

Born in Tucson, AZ in 1977, Lucy Raven lives and works in New York. Her work has been shown in exhibitions and screenings internationally, including solo exhibitions at VOX – Centre de l’image contemporaine, Montréal (2015); Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Troy, NY (2015); Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2014). Her work has also been featured in group exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2013); Whitney Biennial, New York (2012); and the Manchester International Festival, Manchester, England (2011). lucyraven.com

Born in Portland, ME in 1982, Evan Calder Williams is a writer, theorist, and artist who lives and works in Woodstock, NY. He is the author of Combined and Uneven Apocalypse (2011), Roman Letters (2011), as well as two forthcoming books, Shard Cinema and Donkey Time. His writing has appeared in Film QuarterlyThe New InquiryRadical PhilosophyWorld PictureThe Third Rail, and elsewhere. He has presented films, performances, and audio works at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2014); Images Festival, Toronto (2014); Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montréal (2014); Artists Space, New York (2013), Tramway, Glasgow (2012); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012).

Born in London in 1979, Vic Brooks lives and works in Woodstock, NY. She is a curator and producer at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center and Rensselear Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. She has worked at LUX, London, co-founded The Island, London and co-curated at the Serpentine Gallery, London.

The curator

Philippe Pirotte (born in Belgium in 1972) is an art historian, curator, critic, and Director of the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste Städelschule and of Portikus, leading centres for contemporary art in Germany and beyond. Pirotte was one of the co-founders of the contemporary art centre objectif_exhibitions in Antwerp, Belgium. From 2005 to 2011, he was Director of the internationally renowned Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland where he organized solo exhibitions by artists such as Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Owen Land, Oscar Tuazon, Jutta Koether, Allan Kaprow, and Corey McCorkle. From 2004 to 2013, Pirotte held the position of Senior Advisor at the Rijksakademie for Visual Arts in Amsterdam. In 2012, he became Adjunct Senior Curator at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. He also served as Advising Program Director for the Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing and is an advisor for the Kadist Art Foundation (Paris/San Francisco).

Public activities

Artists’ Talk – Thirteen Black Cats (in English)
Panel with Luke Willis Thompson, Michael Blum and Nathalie Melikian
October 19, 2016, 3:00 to 4:30 pm
Société des arts technologiques, 1201 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montréal
$10 / Free for BNLMTL 2016 Passport holders
Organized by La Biennale de Montréal

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