Festival Cultural de Mayo, Mexico [2012]
Festival Cultural de Mayo, Mexico [2012]

Festival Cultural de Mayo, Mexico [2012]

Candide/Candido
Festival Cultural de Mayo

From May 12 to July 15

Artists: Claudie Gagnon, Cooke-Sasseville, Dan Brault, Doyon-Rivest, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Jérôme Fortin, Jocelyn Robert, Raphaëlle de Groot

Director: Claude Bélanger
Curator: Sylvain Campeau
Project Manager: Juli Dutil
Graphic Designer: Guillaume Laroche
Traductor: Jeff Moore

Place : Hospicio Cabañas, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Guadalajara, Mexico

The Exhibition

Candide/Candido takes its title from Voltaire’s moralistic tale Candide, or Optimism, a philosophical fantasy that satirizes human nature. My intention, however, is quite different.

The critical ramifications of an artwork in today’s discourse are often measured in terms of its deconstructive aim, its interrogative powers. The work is designed to disrupt our so-called certainties and the formal conditions according to which an art object is presented and calls itself art. To view things in this way, however, is to acknowledge that these accepted certainties and formal modalities are still very much an active force, since we still feel obliged to denounce and deconstruct them. By feeling them continue to act, to form the backdrop from which the works must detach themselves, we are ipso facto admitting their meaningfulness, vividness, remanence. Do they not therefore emerge strengthened from the process of deconstruction? And are we not falling into the trap of reformulation, of reiteration?

To get around the problem in this exhibition, it thus seemed necessary for me to choose candour and transparency. The works of the selected artists are not presented as embodiments of deconstructive tenets. On the contrary, these artists generally prefer to espouse their themes directly, close at hand, and not to formally distance the themes and questions they wish to illustrate. We know this is more apparent than real. But it’s certainly not what leaps to the eye! The forms presented, the objects reproduced or created, the strategies employed are not, first and foremost, called into question. Doyon-Rivest’s advertising communication strategies, Jérôme Fortin’s books and paper works, Raphaëlle de Groot’s collection of objects —the magic of all these works derives from a level of familiarity and knowledge gained from our daily lives. In all that is presented, there is nothing that appears foreign to us. These objects, these ways of doing things, we recognize as part of our everyday existence. We approach them with confidence. And we see their primary meaning interfused with another imposed by the artist’s treatment.

This exhibition underscores this notion of community between viewers and art objects, as well as the shifts in meaning that take hold of the former when trapped by the latter.

– Sylvain Campeau, Curator

Sylvain Campeau is a poet, art critic, essayist and exhibition curator. He has published five collections of poems, an essay on photography (Chambres obscures. Photographie et installation), and a Quebec poetry anthology (Les Exotiques, Herbes rouges, 2003). His latest essay, Chantiers de l’image, was published last fall by Éditions Nota Bene.

As an art critic, he has contributed to such journals as Parachute, ETC Montréal (now ETC), C Magazine, Vie des arts, CV Photo (now Ciel Variable) and Spirale. In this role, and as an essayist, he has written numerous texts that have appeared in artist monographs, exhibition catalogues and foreign periodicals (France, Spain). In addition to these activities, he works as an independent curator. Since 1992, he has conceived and supervised some thirty exhibitions in Canada and abroad, as well as programming Espaces vitaux/Extravagances for the arrivals-concourse screens at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport, and taking part in La Saison du Québec en France in 2000 and the Liverpool Biennial in 2010.

The Artists

claudie-gagnon-to-beautyClaudie Gagnon
Self-taught artist Claudie Gagnon lives and works in Issoudun (Québec). Since 1985, she has been gathering, matching, piling up, trading, accumulating and fooling around with stuff—common objects of daily life chosen for their kitsch value. Her work takes the form of tableaux vivants and installations. Both delightful and disturbing, her installations vacillate between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Presented as silent performances on stage, her tableaux vivants are a sequence of linked vignettes brought to life by performers. The themes are inspired by history and popular culture, and the processes that come into play are lifted from the classical language of painting, theatre and music. Claudie Gagnon’s work has been shown in Québec, Canada, France, Italy, China and Mexico. Her two performance-installations created for young audiences have been on tour in Canada, Asia and Europe since 2000.

Cooke-Sasseville-mourir-enfinCooke-Sasseville
The art of Cooke-Sasseville is tinged with humour—by turns absurd, scathing and overtly cynical. Through themes closely related to our daily preoccupations—the search for happiness, love, sexuality—their works connote the ordinary, the banal, but often assume forms and styles that are decidedly surrealistic. Out-of-proportion installations, menageries of orange hens, a pink cat and elephant—all are part of the zany world of the artists (Sylvette Babin, esse). Their works have been shown at the 5th Manif d’art, Québec Gold in Reims (France), the Triennale québécoise of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and the Orange Art Event in Saint-Hyacinthe.

Dan-Brault-Painters-zoo_01Dan Brault
Originally from Montreal, Dan Brault lives and Works in Québec city. He studied painting and drawing at Concordia University and graduated with a BFA in 2002. He finished his MFA at Laval University in 2006 and was short-listed for the Joseph Plaskett foundation Award. He has shown his work throughout notable public galleries and artist-run centers around Canada. He is represented by Peak Gallery in Toronto and his work has been presented at the 10th Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates in march 2011.The practice of Dan Brault is based on the confrontation of images of diverse aesthetic origins drawing straight from the codes, the history and the genres of the medium. Of these ensues a production of paintings in styles and techniques varying from hard-edge painting to the comic strip, by borrowing from certain genres classic as the gestural abstraction or the still life. This artist is interested in the idea to involve the viewer in an experience powerfully visual and complex the dynamism of which becomes the message.

Doyon-Rivest-LogopagusDoyon-Rivest
Doyon-Rivest is an artist collective founded in Quebec City in 2000. Mathieu Doyon is a visual artist and musician, while Simon Rivest is a graphic artist and advertising art director. Their practice has developed in the manner of an artistic trademark, the logo that constitutes their signature serving as anchor. Nowadays, the aesthetic vocabulary of business is universal, a language understood by all. The major brands attempt in countless ways to create emotional links with their target clientele, offering them not so much a product as an “experience.” It is this mode of communication and its channels that interest the duo. Over the last few years, their works have been presented at the Triennale québécoise of the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the 4th Manif d’art, the Liverpool Biennial, and Québec Gold in Reims, France.

Jean-Pierrre-Gauthier-HypoxiaJean-Pierre Gauthier
Jean-Pierre Gauthier is a Quebec artist who has distinguished himself on the contemporary art scene since the 1990s. His hybrid approach incorporates visual arts and sound explorations. A virtuoso of the everyday, an artistic handyman, an entomologist of sound, Gauthier sees and hears all the acoustic and metaphoric potential in the found object. His kinetic and sound installations embrace such notions as disorder, organics, sinuosity and unpredictability. He received the prestigious Sobey Art Award in 2004 and the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Prize in 2006. His musical projects and sound installations have been seen and heard throughout Canada, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Korea.

Jerome-Fortin-Autoportrait-01Jérôme Fortin
Born in Joliette in 1971, Jérôme Fortin lives and works in Montreal. His sculpture-installations combine the approach of curiosity cabinets (private rooms for storing precious objects in the 19th century) with the practice of mass consumption in the 20th and 21st centuries. Since 1996, he has given over a dozen solo exhibitions in Prague, Pretoria, Tokyo, Paris, Toronto and Montreal, and has participated in group exhibitions in Istanbul, Berlin, Bologna, Brussels, Paris, Cuba, Barcelona, Beijing and New York. He has also undertaken residencies at such institutions as the World Financial Center Arts and Events (New York), the Fondation Christoph-Merian (Basel), Fonca (Mexico City), Cité internationale des arts (Paris), Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (Havana), and Tokyo Wonder Site. In 2007, his works were presented in a solo exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. He was awarded the Prix Pierre-Ayot by the City of Montreal in 2004.

Jocelyn-Robert-la-CeneJocelyn Robert
Jocelyn Robert is based in Quebec City, where he works in audio art, digital art, performance, installation, video and writing. He has several performances to his credit, both solo and with Diane Landry, Laetitia Sonami and Bruit TTV. He has also released some fifteen solo CDs and collaborated on over twenty others. In 2002, he shared First Prize, Image category, at the Berlin Transmediale Festival, and in 2006 he received the Prix du Rayonnement International from the Conseil de la Culture de Québec. He has presented numerous solo shows, and has also teamed up with Émile Morin and Daniel Jolliffe on various installations. His works have been shown in Canada, United States, Mexico, Chile, Australia and Europe. His writings have been published by Le Quartanier (Montreal), Ohm Éditions (Quebec City), Errant Bodies Press (Los Angeles), Semiotext(e) (New York), and have appeared in several catalogues, including those for Ars Electronica (Austria) and Sonambiente (Germany).

Raphaelle-DeGroot-1273-petites-chosesRaphaëlle de Groot
Raphaëlle de Groot was born in 1974 in Montreal, where she is currently based. In sites linked to art (art schools, museums, exhibition spaces), she creates situations in which visitors and students are directly involved in the creative process. Her works make regular use of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations. She has presented several solo exhibitions in both Canada and abroad, the most recent of which were Chantiers (Le Quartier, Quimper, France, 2008), Il volto interiore (Z2O Galleria – Sara Zanin, Rome, Italy, 2007) and Raphaëlle de Groot. En exercice (Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal, 2006). She has also taken part in numerous group exhibitions, including Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme (Triennale québécoise, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2008), Rendre réel (Scène Québec, Ottawa, 2007), Negotiating Us, Here and Now (Leeds City Art Gallery, Britain, 2005), Just my Imagination (ArtLab, John Labatt Visual Arts Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, 2004), and « Nous venons en paix… » Histoires des Amériques (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2004).

Acknowledgements :
Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec
Conseil des arts du Canada
l’Entente de développement culturel entre le Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine et la Ville de Québec
Délégation du Québec à Mexico
Collection Loto-Québec
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal