Photo: Renaud Philippe
Installation view “Reanimation (Baloo Stripped Bare)” by Oliver Beer at the Galerie des arts visuels, Quebec city.
With the Exception of a few flats, the 9th Manif d’art − The Québec city biennial is a grand success. The title — “So small between the stars, so large against the sky” — could seem a bit of a catch-all. In the end, this poetic sentence taken from a song by Leonard Cohen used to both treat of the philosophical relationships of the human being with the universe, the meaning of life, but also issues of generational major such as the transmission of cultural heritage or ecological… A show that seems to ask us , as the famous painting by Paul Gauguin: d’où venons-nous ? What are we ? Where are we going ?
Salvation by utopias achievable in the Québec city Biennial
Of course, all of the pieces don’t avoid the clichés inherent in this type of topic. To talk about the environmental disaster that our world has developed, a few pieces put in the scene of a somewhat literal accumulation of objects in our capitalist world waster. This is the case of Krištof Kintera at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.
That said, in the solos in galleries and in public spaces, works that stand out.
In the galleries, one of the most remarkable parts is without a doubt, Oliver Beer, the young designer of 34 years. The work is titled Reanimation (Baloo Stripped Bare), a title that can be translated, retaining its link with Marcel Duchamp, by Resuscitation (Baloo laid bare)… In what looks like an animated film, the English artist showcases 2500 drawings made by children 13 years of age and under.
These drawings show an extract from the famous movie the Jungle book Wolfgang Reitherman made for Disney in 1967. Slowly, the drawings almost abstract most young children leave their place to sketch better articulation of the oldest. Accompanied by the song About Today by the band The National, this work deals with the relationship with nature that adults have long instilled in the children.
As we are reminded by Michelle Drapeau, assistant commissioner for the Demo, this movie is one vehicle among others, the idea that humans are superior to animals and nature, but also poses a gaze, colonialist and full of racism towards the culture of african-american and Black… A work, touching and intelligent. Keep an eye on this young artist.
In Driftless, Felipe Castelblanco speaks of our relation to the borders. This is a video showing a performance that he conducted over several years on different bodies of water (Venice, Sydney, Lofoten in Norway, Quebec, etc.). On a craft less stable, he has traveled to these places, reminding us forcefully of the frightening journeys of many migrants, sometimes abandoned to drowning.
We will also look at Living with Contradiction of Nadia Myre, a video installation that allows one to see a conversation filmed between artists of aboriginal origin. They deal with relationships, among other museums, the objects, in particular those of the native american culture. David Garneau explains how the knowledge carried by the objects resides more in the work of the designer and in the object kept in the museum.
The arts component of this biennial is also very successful. In particular, you need to go and listen to the sound work Lowlands by Susan Philipsz, winner of the Turner prize in 2010. This work is installed in the courtyard of the national historic site the Fortifications of Québec. Nothing that the device is worth a visit.
Photo: Renaud Philippe
A lover of the art of listening the sound work Lowlands (2010) by Susan Philipsz, the national historic site the Fortifications of Québec.
When you walk in this courtyard full of snow, motion sensors snap onto speaker parts voice ghostly. It is the voice of Philipsz who sings the songs, the laments of sailors scottish narrating farewell due to drownings or disappearances. A work that gives the sense that places can have a soul.