Michèle Provost gave her artist talk last night for for her ART NOW! It is an assortment of recontextualized images, objects, and quotes taken from Taschen’s Art Now!. The volumes list the most popular contemporary artists of the last 50 years or so to present.
She’s taken all the pull out quotes of artist statements from the 3 volumes and hung them from the idea of film canisters. Something I admire, of the much I admire of her, is her mix of open-mindedness and critical thought. She said she took each piece regardless of her feeling about the artist or art.
The tributes are done whether she loves the original piece or had contempt for it. She said, when you get a book like this that catalogues so much the temptation is to look only at what you like, but you learn far more from what you don’t like or don’t get. It is more interesting that way.
All 350 quotes are tagged with a page number referencing the books in the gallery. Even the ones who didn’t have an artist sound bite. That half dozen are represented as blank slips. To not speak also signifies.
This one in the gallery, where’s that?
She also took from the books the artist photos and embroidered them on familiar circles, onto a soup can lid, tomato paste, CD (and onto a 4th household shape which I will remember presently). Each of these also have numbers stitched in as well so it may cross-reference with the quote, and the other two sections. Most of the artists, although recognized as top of the field, do not have face recognition.
She brings forward the question of the role of marketing. Is marketing facilitating the exchange between the public and the artist or impeding it? What does the language do to bring the public and ideas of art together? Or is it separating?
By the act of making a sort of Vogue magazine for the art world of creating hot (and by implication not) lists, then breaking the arbitrarily made patterns by the maker itself, who is served? Is it the artist or the structures around them? Is anything but the art between the artist and the potential market?
She’s taken details from art that has been canonized by Taschen and repainted portions on strips like interior designer’s pantone colour strips. Like the quotes, each is decontextualized. What was part of a story is now decorative, stripped of meaning. Something is still conveyed but something undeniably lost.
Is it misrepresenting to reproduce in acrylic like this? Everything that is not seeing the art directly in person is not the art. If you see an illustration of art, you may think you are familiar with the piece, but a representation is not the thing. It is a representation.
If you see a still of a temporal art piece, you don’t get a sense of the film. If you see an image of Rodin’s sculpture, you miss the dimensions of being with it in person. A photograph of textile art misses the texture. A reproduction of oil painting can’t convey that extra transcendence of in person. Something is lost necessarily in translations through media. To reference is to not create the original.
A 4th part of the exhibit was taking the images reflected in the art pieces and restoring them to 3D. For example, a performance artist who drizzled himself in chocolate and stuck a mouth full of twizzlers and recorded that to flat 2D is brought back to object by making art the original twizzlers.
A display case of objects that were pictured in the art brought back as art in reference to Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain of 1917. What is art and who curates it? What is it to signify to whom?
The exhibition continues until Nov 2.
It includes works that are embroidered, painted, and printed, as well as found objects. It questions the subjective process employed by art-world publications of selecting, defining, categorizing, and evaluating art, all while inviting the viewer to participate and discover the artworks and artists being referenced.
It’s out by South Keys at Patrick Mikhail Gallery, 2401 Bank Street, Ottawa.