Montreal Gazette

Photos celebrate club's flamboyant atmosphere

DAVID LISS - SPECIAL TO THE GAZETTE

Squeeze Night at Club Metropolis has become notorious for the flamboyant antics of eccentric gender-benders, go-go dancers and fetishists, and for the flaunting of up-front sexuality and serious fashion crimes. In fact, only a small number of the club's thousand or so patrons indulge in such goings-on, but those who do provide visually rich material for any sociological or artistic study in human behavior. As a frequent visitor to the Saturday night ritual, I was expecting Xavier Nuez's Mondo Squeeze exhibition of photographs to be a wild and wacky document of this Felliniesque cabaret. While the 17 color photographs on display in the club's VIP lounge are technically competent and compositionally sound, they are remarkably tame given the subject matter. I was expecting a more provocative exploration of the outrageous outfits and dynamic personalities that populate the sexually charged atmosphere. Instead, Nuez was focused on a handful of Squeeze-Night celebrities, and his approach essentially falls into two stylistic categories: portraiture and party snapshots. Not surprisingly, Nuez's strength lies in the more staged photographs. A dazzling picture of a club habittie framed by the neon Metropolis sign offers an irresistible invitation to a decadent event.

Another photograph, titled Buddha With a Little Help From Her Friends, is very slick and professional-looking, approaching the quality of Annie Leibovitz's work. As with Leibovitz, however, Nuez's pho-tographs draw their strength from the personalities portrayed rather than from any innovation on the part of the photographer. Taken as a whole, it's obvious from these photos that there are some unique personalities at Squeeze Night. A work titled Etienne and Plastik Patrick succeeds in conveying an attitude of light-hearted and genuine fun that has made Squeeze Night such a success since it began early last winter. Another prominent Squeeze Night celeb is Cindy. She/he is a tall, striking-looking creature who prances and dances around the club virtually every Saturday night. Cindy is usually clad in dangerously skimpy lingerie, poured on to a slim and sexy body that confuses and boggles the mind. His/her huge smile and animated face, reflect an effervescent and uninhibited personality. Yet, some-how, Nuez's photograph of Cindy falls completely flat in an attempt to portray a subject that should have been impossible to render so blandly. To be fair, Nuez is a young photographer in the formative stages of his career. So despite the rampant clichés, these are fun pix that manage to convey the lively spirit of this weekly event and provide a colorful, decorative touch to the trash-chic design theme in the lounge.

David Liss is a Montreal-based artist and art writer.

Mondo Squeeze continues in the VIP lounge of the Club Metropolis, 59 Ste. Catherine St. E., until Oct. 8. Squeeze Night takes place on Saturdays, 10 p.m.-3 a.m.

 

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Better to describe photo as shocking

David Liss's review of photographer Xavier Nuez (Gazette, Sept. 3) meets a less-rigorous standard than most of the writing in the generally excellent Art/Books section of your paper. When Liss writes that the Nuez photograph of the transvestite "Cindy" is handled "blandly" he uses a word which is more suited to a review of a restaurant than that of an artistic event. Liss displays a high degree of solipsism in his use of this adverb, since the original photograph (which shows Cindy with legs apart, grinning enigmatically while clutching at his/her genitals) would he considered shocking or even horrifying by many people. Hardly a bland photograph. In my opinion, Nuez's attempts at presenting Cindy in all his/her "effervescent and uninhibited personality," in Liss's words, would have been to sensationalize the experience of a transvestite. In none of his photographs does Nuez exploit the obvious. Could Cindy's real essence be much closer to the seemingly ambivalent and reclusive figure in Nuez's photograph, who might be — internally — distraught by his/her obsessive exhibitionism? Could Cindy be like the literary clown who becomes melancholy once the show is over? Authentic art hardly aims at demonstrating the obvious as Liss would have preferred Nuez to do.

HARRY WAGSCHAL Westmount

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