PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY IN MONTRÉAL PRESENTS “STRUCTURES OF POWER” A GROUP EXHIBITION FEATURING SIX ARTISTS WORKING IN VIDEO, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND PAINTING
STRUCTURES OF POWER
NOVEMBER 9, 2019 TO JANUARY 4, 2020
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2019
2 P.M. TO 6 P.M.
PATRICK MIKHAIL GALLERY in Montréal is pleased to present STRUCTURES OF POWER, an exhibition featuring new works by gallery artists Antonietta Grassi, Janet Jones, and Jinyoung Kim, and guest artists Raymonde April (Montreal), Anne-Renee Hotte (Montreal), and Emilie Duval (Houston).
In Structures of Power, six artists come together to investigate the hidden and not-so-hidden systems of influence and power that control and guide our daily lives. Through new video, photography, and painting they consider how these formal and informal forces and structures—economic, political, social, familial, corporate, institutional—have the ability to organize our relationships, structure our thinking, affect our human judgment, and maximize our economic productivity and consumerism. For better or worse.
«Structures of Power » is an exercise I took backwards.
Instead of expressing a critical vision of the social, political and material structures that oppress us, I have tried to feel and name the benevolent forces that carry us through life. The word Power is heavy. It can be defined in several synonyms, as many facets of a sculpture. Some of these synonyms are more welcoming than others: Strength, Energy, Heat, Knowledge pleases me more than Control, Will, Authority, Rigour. I am interested in the states and feelings that result from a mysterious force at work on the fringes of consciousness: fascination, vibration, illumination, tension, vertigo, oscillation, amplitude, fullness, balance, clairvoyance, resistance, resilience, resonance, chaos. And I wonder what governs the relationships between beings and things: request, gift, abandonment, possession, regret, desire, love. And what about transcendence, hallucination, metamorphosis... what about creation?
Societies have mutated due to the algorithmic implementation for the pursuit of productivity. Every war starts by economic miscommunication and the blindness to consider the future of societies. The series The Island presents the notion of ‘Heterotopia’, a concept elaborated by Michel Foucault. The other spaces in this case are dematerialized societal entities. Currently, their invisible formation is in progress to fulfill the societal needs and develop a self-reflective productiveness. Each Heterotopia in my painting addresses the functionality of societal entities and how energy, mobility, existence, demography, borders, consumption and governance will be organized to maximize productivity and space. The dictate of algorithmic complexity is expanding the vertical governance by digitizing our structural environment.
The paintings The Island depict a combination of shapes, texts extracted from research, and drawings to represent the multiple layers of societies and their complexity. In the foreground, waves are painted to symbolize the imperceptible changes of societies made by algorithms.
Obsolescence essentially reflects loss of power, which today is more relevant than ever. My continued interest in obsolescence is not limited to data and technological objects, but also encompasses everything we ignore and discard in our present society. It extends beyond references to objects but to the types of work that is, or has been, phased out and who as a result, has become disposable, forgotten and powerless as a result.
My paintings reference work related to textile production, analog technology, old systems of filing and sorting data from file clerking, and data processing, to sewing, weaving, pattern making, and many more jobs in the needle trade, many of which were jobs traditionally associated with women, although not exclusively, and which have been or are being phased out due to newer technologies. Many of my paintings incorporate threadlike lines and reference color swatches, similar to those used by color forecasters in the garment industry. In many ways, I consider the drawing of the lines in my work (a repetitive, meditative task that can go on for weeks or months on one single painting) as connected to the work that my ancestors did as workers in the textile and garment industry in Montréal in the mid 20th century.
Just as the use of lines in my work can reference textile work, the shapes in my work, which are often based on templates made from fragments of old computer hardware, files, and folders reference secretarial and data-processing jobs that have also become obsolete. In the early days of computing, women contributed greatly to the development of the first computers and to computing theory. If our present day is any indication of how the “Move Fast and Break Things” ethos of the tech giants is counterintuitive, perhaps we are ready to move slow, contemplate more, and mend things. This is where power resides.
Anne-Renée Hotte is interested in the emotional and social relationships that make up a group in both the public and private spheres. In the triptych The Garden, an image of waiting spectators cohabits with black and white photographs of vegetation. In these nocturnal images, the raw light of the flash reveals a chaotic but strangely familiar nature, isolating the subject from its context in order to better observe it. In the central image, a discreet and frontal camera stops on the spatial organization of individuals gathering in a performance hall. The Garden's photographs are from the “Natural Gesture” exhibition that will be presented at Axenéo7 in January 2020.
These paintings suggest the classic high-modernist, western skyscraper, a symbol of unlimited progress, economic growth and power. They may, as well, suggest 9/11, the point when all power relations shifted, became camouflaged: who’s war? what war? where? The choice of the camouflage fabric as a painting support has a number of connotations; who is hiding? from what? why? who has power? who does not?
All mega-cities, but particularly those like NY, Berlin and Paris, are ghost towns. They harbour the ghosts of history; of past events and people. They hide their secrets.
Sindang area 9 is one of the neighbourhoods in Seoul where development plan has been in progress since 2009. For a decade, negotiations to meet ethical and economic developmental resolution for the place have been on-going, subjecting the fate of the place to uncertainty and instability. While I was visiting the place to see its physical state and architecture, I was struck by the compositions of overlapping walls and stairways, and also the arrangements of small gardens that the residents cultivate on their fences, on the edges of alleyways and in their front yards. The area is dense with residential houses and steep concrete stairs, and these gardens nevertheless took space. In the centre of the neighbourhood, an old Ginkgo Tree stands surrounded by the houses, its root growing under the cemented surface.