Passenger Art is produced by Reilley Bishop-Stall and Natalie Zayne Bussey. While Reilley and Natalie both grew up in Vancouver and lived somewhat parallel lives, they did not actually meet until moving to Montreal and entering the Master’s program in art history at McGill University. Suspicious of their similarities, they spent some time surveying each other surreptitiously from beneath their bangs until deciding to join forces as friends and colleagues. They have been unable to shake each other ever since. A doctoral student and freelance writer, Reilley’s work has been published in local and international peer-reviewed journals. Natalie writes regularly for the Belgo Report, Cult MTL and Seachange journal, for which she is also a contributing editor.

Passenger: Tracking Ideas and Assertions in Contemporary Art

Contemporary spectators are spectators on the move; primarily, they are travellers.”

~ Boris Groys

A passenger is a particular type of traveller: neither driving nor determining the route, he or she relinquishes some level of control to the mechanisms that make mobility possible. Despite the passivity or powerlessness encompassed in such a notion, the passenger enjoys a privileged position as contemplative commuter and witness to the unfolding of events and expanses. The passenger that we envision and with whom we identify is an inquisitive explorer and critical commentator and we aim to articulate an account of our own experiences and encounters with contemporary art.

If art is meant to reflect the time in which it is produced, it is no wonder that art today can appear evasive, ambivalent, or indefinable. Certainly a plethora of themes and threads can be identified within contemporary art, but none are constant or consistent enough to adequately address its diversity. Indeed, given the radically decentralized and plural nature of current production, one cannot convincingly claim a particular zeitgeist or movement that supersedes the rest. Similarly, there are, at this point, countless forums for one to encounter and engage with art and its analysis and each offers a different perspective from which to do so. Amidst the excess of information, images and opportunities for exploration, the trope of mobility has thus become common currency in the realm of contemporary art, culture and criticism. It is out of an awareness of these circumstances that we propose Passenger as a peripatetic platform for the investigation, analysis and engagement with contemporary art.

The content of Passenger will include interviews, essays and reviews of current and recent exhibitions, books and art related events. While we are uninterested in constructing totalizing narratives or using art to illustrate, justify or endorse a particular point of view, we write from within our own frame of experience and do not shy away from personal opinion, politics, provocation or puns (nor, evidently, gratuitous alliteration). As we are based in Montreal, there will be an emphasis on work shown in this city, but as passengers we are also bound to movement and travel and will periodically report from other cities. We hope you will join us.

Natalie Bussey & Reilley Bishop-Stall