Canadian Art

Adam Pendleton: Band Leader

Parisian Laundry, Montreal Apr 28 to Jun 4 2011
Adam Pendleton <em>BAND</em> 2009 Installation view Courtesy Parisian Laundry  /  photo Guy l’Heureux Adam Pendleton BAND 2009 Installation view Courtesy Parisian Laundry / photo Guy l’Heureux

Adam Pendleton <em>BAND</em> 2009 Installation view Courtesy Parisian Laundry / photo Guy l’Heureux

Currently on view at Montreal’s Parisian Laundry, BAND by New York’s Adam Pendleton is a thoroughly hybrid creation, spanning years, mediums, borders and cultural moments, with an origin as circuitous as its concept. Taking as its primary riff Jean-Luc Godard’s 1968 cult film about the Black Panthers and the Rolling Stones, One Plus One (a.k.a. Sympathy for the Devil), Pendleton’s project began as a performance at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, where it was initiated by Illingworth Kerr Gallery director/curator Wayne Baerwaldt. The performance, at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, was by San Francisco indie-rock band Deerhoof, and Pendleton—after presenting clips from Godard’s film and reading aloud a letter by ex-Panther Eldridge Cleaver—had Deerhoof play while projecting a live feed as well as previous rehearsal footage behind them.

Months later, this happening was followed by another event/reading at Amsterdam’s de Appel. And last fall, in the project’s final stage, Illingworth Kerr and, shortly after, New York’s Kitchen displayed a black-and-white, three-channel film, the same one now at Parisian Laundry. (At the Kitchen, associated black-and-white works from Pendleton’s series Black Dada and System of Display were also on view). This film, whose production crew includes Winnipeggers Deco Dawson (who acted as editor) and Noam Gonick (who acted as cinematographer, as did Pendleton), consists chiefly of the aforementioned rehearsal footage of Deerhoof at a Toronto recording studio, laying down a brand new song, “I Did Crimes for You,” that eventually turned up on their 2011 LP, Deerhoof vs. Evil.

Pendleton’s film follows Godard’s in its fragmented format and emphasis on process: anyone who has seen the original will recall its incessant focus on rehearsals for the Stones’ legendary song “Sympathy for the Devil,” which plays repeatedly, sometimes with scenes of the band in the studio, sometimes with scenes of the film’s alternate subject, a staged Black Panther uprising. Godard’s film revels in this disparity: a largely politically disengaged rock band playing, in chunks and loops, a song about historical malfeasance as a soundtrack to violent leftist revolt.

In BAND, Deerhoof’s rehearsal of the considerably more obscure “I Did Crimes for You,” which contains lyrics like “Smash the windows / The people are wrong / The leader is strong / Guerilla surrender,” is cut with audio snippets from a 1971 documentary about a politically awakened black teenager and from a police raid on the Black Panthers. The result appears to draw attention to the even wider contemporary gap between aesthetics and real, active political engagement. The apolitical Deerhoof, whose lyrics here are merely an allusion to radicalism (they are, seemingly, used as a metaphor for romantic longing), are separated from the Black Panthers not just by intention, but by time. In BAND, Pendleton, a young black artist, demonstrates how easily political movements can become works of art, an advent which separates us from the immediacy and desperation of the original moment—but which, curiously, also acts to keep it alive. (3550 rue St-Antoine O, Montreal QC)

This article was first published online on May 12, 2011.


  • David Altmejd and Pierre Lapointe: Conte crépusculaire

    David Altmejd’s spring homecoming to Montreal promises one of the most exciting Canadian-art events of the year—an interactive fairy-tale performance created with one of Quebec’s biggest pop stars—and a related exhibition to boot.

  • CONTACT 2011: Figure and Ground

    This year, the CONTACT photography festival goes cross-country with a public billboard project and also features its largest-ever number of Toronto exhibitions. Here, assistant editor David Balzer picks five must-sees among the hundreds of options on offer.

  • Prairie Scene: Capital Invasion

    Regions from coast to coast have their distinct cultural charms, but there’s perhaps no place with more creative punch per capita than the Prairies. Now Ottawa gets a good look at the midwest’s artistic assets with a massive multi-exhibition event.



[an error occurred while processing this directive]


  • Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: Black Birds

    New York critic Joseph R. Wolin heads to the Park Avenue Armory where Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are creating a buzz (and other sounds) at the US premiere of a dark, nightmarish installation originally created for the 2008 Biennale of Sydney.

  • Grange Prize 2012: Hot Shots

    One of Canada’s largest cash-value art prizes—$65,000 in total with $50,000 going to the winner, $5,000 to three runners-up—announced its finalists this week. Take in their wide-ranging works in this slideshow.

  • Wanda Koop: Into the Woods

    A visit to Wanda Koop’s cabin near Riding Mountain National Park in southern Manitoba proves intriguing for Vancouver critic Robin Laurence. There, Laurence writes, Koop bridges old Grey Owl myths with a new series of paintings on our increasingly digital culture.

  • Brad Tinmouth: Survival Strategies

    The basement of an art gallery may seem an unlikely place to create an emergency shelter. However, Xpace's lower gallery is an ideal setting for Brad Tinmouth's “If Times Get Tough or Even If They Don't,” which evokes a cold-war bunker.

  • Wim Delvoye: Blame it on Paris

    Silk-covered pigs, lattice-cut car tires and a tattooed man are just a few of the works that Belgian artist Wim Delvoye has shuttled into the old, Gothic wing of the Louvre this summer. Jill Glessing reviews, finding a terrific amalgam of high and low.

More Online

Report a problem