“BGL’s works often embody a direct relationship to material and the need, even the urgency to reclaim material conditions. Composed almost entirely of recycled materials, Canadassimo conveys a sense of the excess to which contemporary society is prone, but also conjures the eccentric character of a bricoleur/artist who collects anything and everything"
Curator Marie Fraser, takes us through.
As so often with BGL’s work, Canadassimo blurs the traditional boundaries of the art experience. Partially obscured by scaffolding, which gives the impression the exhibition is still under construction, the Canada Pavilion has become the site of a vast immersive installation. Completely transforming the space, BGL has taken advantage of the building’s architecture to create an intriguing path through a world of products, objects and materials, where art rubs shoulders with merchandise and economics. Visitors access the pavilion through a small neighbourhood convenience store, with tinned goods and other household essentials. This strange, chaotic area is followed by a living space under renovation, which itself leads to a studio crammed with all kinds of objects, including hundreds of cans covered in drips of coloured paint.
A staircase leads from this section to the scaffolding structure, which is covered by a terrace that extends from the pavilion and overlooks the Giardini. Once there, visitors are invited to drop coins into a maze of gutters that spill into the building’s large glassed walls. This action reinforces the theme of consumerism in Canadassimo while also calling attention to the complex links between interior and exterior, between the structure of the pavilion and the architectonic elements of the installation.
“In its excessiveness, Canadassimo creates a kind of materialist frenzy. When we visited the pavilion for the first time, we found its architecture odd and on a human scale that doesn’t quite match its role as an exhibition space. We were also struck by its position in the Giardini. We came up with the idea of integrating it into a labyrinthine installation and playing with the exterior surroundings by building an extension and making people enter through a small store in the heart of the Giardini – so they have to pass through a service area to getting to the art."
The many references to Canadian culture and to North American lifestyles, coupled with the extension that greatly increases the pavilion’s surface area – but, with its unfinished look, sows doubt in visitors’ minds – also prompt reflection on the issue of national representation.
Over the past twenty years, BGL has taken part in numerous exhibitions, including events at MASS MoCA (North Adams, United States, 2012), MAC/VAL (Val-de-Marne, France, 2011-2012), the National Gallery of Canada (2008-2009), Casino Luxembourg–Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg (2005), the LaM (Lille Métropole, France, 2003) and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2001). The collective has also participated in the Bienal del fin del mundo (2007), the Biennale de Montréal (2007), the Bienal de la Habana (2006) and the Manif d’art, la Biennale de Québec (2000, 2005), as well in Nuits blanches in Calgary (2012), Paris (2011) and Toronto (2008). BGL is represented by Parisian Laundry in Montreal and Diaz Contemporary in Toronto.
About the exhibition curator, Marie Fraser
Marie Fraser teaches art history and museology at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She has organized some thirty exhibitions in Canada and Europe, and was Chief Curator at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal from 2010 to 2013.
Marie Fraser | filmed by Out of Sync | Venice May 2015
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
Artworks courtesy | BGL | Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière
© Out of Sync 2015