What is art? What is a great performance? What is an opus? What should you feel during an artistic performance? What should you feel after?

You know when you’ve seen art when you’ve lived something during a show or a performance. You know it’s art when you didn’t get all of it. You know it’s art when you feel lucky to have seen a show rather than watched tv. You know it’s art when you can’t really explain the show you’ve seen to a friend. You know it was good, even great, but you can’t put words on the storyline. You just had to be there.

Buying the DVD or writing a review won’t really make for having missed it. Trying to put words on it will probably spoil it.

The Monumental show that Montreal’s post-rockers Godspeed You! Black Emperor put together with Vancouver dance troup Holy Body Tattoo at Place-des-Arts on April 11 and 12 was an event that was dark, that evoked the stress and dispare in which we live in our society. It didn’t blame anybody nor anything in particular, but it showed the damage our crazy lives have on us. At least that’s how I perceived the show. That’s how I read it. That’s what it generated to me.

You know it’s art when you, as the public, can have your own perception of what is happening in front of you, that might be different from your neighbor’s perception. And both are right. There is no wrong. You know it’s art when there are many options of interpretation. Everybody in Maisonneuve Theatre didn’t see or feel the same things by hearing the thunderous music from Godspeed’s low profile musicians nor by watching the ten dancers from Holy Body Tattoo’s troup on those blocks, or around them.

I will not try to explain it, nor spoil it for the spectators of the other cities thos show will be presented in, I will only say it’s art, it definitively is, and you should live this, if you can. You’ll decide yourself if you like it or not. I did. A lot.


Next shows are at Quebec City’s Grand Théâtre de Québec on April 15, 2016. Tickets here. Later, on June 14 and 15, Monumental will happen at the Luminato Festival in Toronto. Info here.

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie "Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique" en 2013, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.