his mortal remains |  Pink Floyd exhibitions in Montreal

his mortal remains | Pink Floyd exhibitions in Montreal

Five years after its creation in London, his mortal remains moved to Arsenal contemporary art

Posted yesterday at 6:00 am

Jean Christophe Laurence

Jean Christophe Laurence

“It’s nice to go into the museum, but I still prefer to make music! »

Clear voice on the phone. Accent British. Friendly conversation. Reached by phone on the west coast of the United States, Nick Mason is nothing like the disillusioned rock star we expected to find. On the contrary. At 78 years old, the Pink Floyd drummer seems quite happy to chat with the journalist and does not hesitate to talk about the cult group that made him known.

It must be said that the conversation revolves around a topic close to his heart, namely the exhibition his mortal remainsdedicated to Pink Floyd, which arrives this Friday at the Montreal Arsenal of Contemporary Art, five years after its official opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Saucerful of Secrets by Nick Mason live in Portsmouth in 2018

Basically, because Mason was very involved in the project, to the point of becoming his “special consultant”. He gave his opinion on a regular basis and contributed many personal items, such as pages from a logbook and old frilly shirts from the period. Ummagumma, apparently found in her grandchildren’s costume boxes! Logically, she also became his official spokesperson.

Does the drummer have the fiber of the museum? He defends himself. “I’m not like Bill Wyman [des Rolling Stones], who recorded everything meticulously. And he certainly wasn’t smart enough at the time to think in historical or archival terms. Is that I kept more boxes than David [Gilmour] and roger [Waters] ! »

A special bond with Montreal

Halfway between a classic exhibition and an immersive experience, his mortal remains traces the journey of the British band, from the psychedelic years with Syd Barrett to the trio albums of the 1990s, through the heyday of The dark side of the moon, I wish you were here Y Walldominated by the neuroses of bassist Roger Waters.

You can see various objects that belonged to the members of the group, posters, David Gilmour guitars, Richard Wright keyboards, Syd Barrett’s bicycle. We recreated environments, even scenery. We even offer stations of a more technical nature, which give a total vision of the creative process of the formation. The music, but also the sound, the lighting, the recording and the design of some famous album covers.


Nick Mason, Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and Richard Wright, from the original version of Pink Floyd

This aspect of the exhibition particularly appeals to Nick Mason, because it shows that “the group wasn’t just about its musicians.” It also involved several collaborators (graphic designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell, architect Mark Fisher, etc.) without whom the Floyd universe would not have been the same. The drummer even hopes that there will be more interactive stations, like this simplified console that allows you to remix the song. Money, will inspire certain vocations.

One detail, and no less important: the Montreal version of his mortal remains it also contains a station that was not in the original London version. This one is dedicated to the unique bond that unites Pink Floyd in Quebec and especially to the concert on July 6, 1977 at the Olympic Stadium, during which Roger Waters, increasingly discouraged by the star system, spat on the spectators. The incident is notorious as it would have become the starting point for the album. Wall.


Dave Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright on stage during their 1977 tour

Nick Mason remembers it very well. Had it not been for him, there is no doubt that this slip-up could have happened elsewhere. “I think the problem of the disconnect between the public and the artists was not unique to Montreal,” he says. It’s a coincidence that this particular show was the catalyst. It could have happened in any city during this tour. »

No enthusiasm, no reunification

his mortal remains he passed through London, Rome, Madrid, Dortmund, before ending up at the Arsenal of contemporary art. A nice catch for this arts hub in the Griffintown district. Especially since the exhibition is particularly complicated to move and it was not supposed to be traveling at first.

“It is as heavy as a permanent exhibition. In fact, it is like a permanent exhibition. There are many costs related to the preparation, ”summarizes Guy Laforce, director of the Arsenal, referring to the ten trucks needed to transport the equipment and the army of carpenters in charge of decorating it. Mr. Laforce points out that half a dozen people came expressly from the United Kingdom to supervise the montage, in particular the graphic designer Aubrey Powell, co-founder of Hipgnosis, the agency behind the group’s covers.

  • View of the His Mortal Remains exhibition during its opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2017


    view of the exhibition his mortal remains when it opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2017

  • View of the exhibition His Mortal Remains during its opening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in 2017


    view of the exhibition his mortal remains when it opened at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2017


Obviously we can wonder about the “museification” of Pink Floyd. Rock music is inherently alive and vibrant. And that’s why Nick Mason also decided not to stop at the expo. Six years ago he founded the group Saucerful of Secrets, which performs the darkest Floyd repertoire from 1969 to 1972. The aim of the operation was not so much to save the group’s music, he says, as the “selfish pleasure” of playing it on the stage, and not behind a window.

Impossible, at this point, not to ask him the million dollar question: will Pink Floyd reform one day, even without Rick Wright, who died in 2008? Short answer: “No, I don’t think so. I would only be interested if there was any real enthusiasm, and I don’t see any yet,” he says. Implicit reference to David Gilmour and Roger Waters, the other two survivors of the formation, who no longer get along.

The work remains, monumental, which has lost none of its strength and relevance. As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the masterpiece The dark side of the moonReleased in March 1973, Pink Floyd remain one of the rare groups of their time to stay the course and retain a modicum of meaning, at this time particularly anxiety-provoking.

“I would like to be remembered as a band that did its job well and did a lot of people good,” concludes Nick Mason. I also think that in some cases we provided real support to people who were not happy. »

“This is how I would like to go down in history…”

At the Arsenal of contemporary art from November 4 to December 31

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