If You’re Going Into This One, Rest Easy — The Door Is “Open All The Way”

Picking up somewhere well beyond the farthest limit of what could safely be labeled the “avant garde,” Montreal experimental multi-media artist Billy Mavreas’ latest (I think, at any rate — it’s an undated publication) self-published mini, Open All The Way, represents perhaps the apex of his “studied minimalist” approach to date, leaving behind the oblique links to narrative of prior efforts such as The Realms and The Burden Of Possibilities in favor of a richer, yet paradoxically even more austere, approach to grappling with many of the same themes, chief among them being explorations of creativity in the abstract and the nature of consciousness itself.

You needn’t, however, feel in any way intimidated by the admittedly weighty nature of what’s on offer here — consider the title both an invitation and a case of artistic truth in advertising, given that Mavreas is, by nature, someone who views possibility as equal parts promise and responsibility. His sparse and highly interpretive illustrations are therefore best viewed as a springboard for your own contemplations, then, while the text statements presented next to — and in some cases within — them seem to present not so much a counterpoint as they do a de facto guidepost.

But, hey, who the fuck can say for sure? And the fact that the answer to that question is “no one” — possibly up to and including Mavreas himself — is what makes this project such an inherently and undeniably exciting one. The idea that art is what you make of it is as old as art itself, of course, but that statement is usually in reference to an end result — here, the tables are reversed, and that “it is what you think it is” ethos is baked into the cake from the outset. And while it may only take all of five minutes to peruse the contents of this ‘zine (it’s only eight pages long), who really cares? You can lose yourself in the process of thinking about it for hours.

Is this, then, visual and/or tone poetry? Without a doubt. But it’s also an attempt at mapping a hitherto undefined landscape by means of a symbiotic bond between creator and audience. The nature of that mapping exercise is necessarily going to vary from reader to reader, but that’s okay — the terrain itself does, as well, so not only are you not beholden to any one particular outcome here, you’re not beholden to any one particular viewpoint from jump, either. This is a complex work, make no mistake, but it affords every reader the possibility to make it as simple as their mood and energy level allows for, maybe even dictates.

That being said, images and text herein do invariably relate to one another directly in a manner that doesn’t require too much straining to tease out. Yet the effect of their juxtaposition is always twofold, offering a pair of ways to consider the same idea, one abstract, one concrete — and, in so doing, convergences between both methods of analysis make themselves plainly known on level both liminal and subliminal. One is intellectual, after all, and the other emotive, and if you want to convince folks that either one is nothing without the other, well, there are few better ways to do it than to thrust a copy of this into their hands.

Be prepared, though ; you may not get it back. And even if their fingers do let it go, chances are their minds won’t for quite some time.

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Open All The Way is available for $5.00 from Austin English’s Domino Books distro at http://dominobooks.org/openall.html

Review wrist check – Zodiac “Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation” in burnt orange.