To mark its thirtieth anniversary, Galerie B-312 hosted a series of three exhibitions running from January to June 2022, all constructed around the theme of combining space with time. Opening with artists Maude Arès and Massimo Guerrera, the collaborative show Provoquer expresses the temporal relations between the material world and the built environment. Though composed of two distinct parts, Arès’ studio and Guerrera’s gallery replica are interwoven and physically nested into one another. From the intimate nature of the objects in Arès’ studio to Guerrera’s miniature shrine to the gallery’s achievements, tenderness plays a significant role in the exhibition. It plays on tender bodies and objects, on how we define and experience tenderness, and what we tend to.
In États fluides: entre la dureté du faire et la délicatesse des fards à joues, we are confronted with the sight of Arès’ paraphernalia running along the gallery’s perimeter. Through a mixture of found objects—ranging from domestic and industrial materials to those found in nature—spread out on low makeshift tables, Arès transforms the space into a precarious habitat. Fragments of discarded clothes, tangled cables, plastic waste, and natural detritus are laid out across each surface as centrepieces, along with freestanding concrete blocks, erected sculptures, weathered books, and placeholders for trinkets. The artist’s method of collecting and categorizing items calls for a reinterpretation of values. At a time when we are in a flux of material production, her installation begins to address the practice of sustainability. Through her objects, she seeks not to glorify the new but, instead, revisits what were once useful objects that have now been discarded.
From the tangerine peels, the plates by the window, and the blankets and pillows nestled in the corner of the space to the containers filled with categorized found objects, Arès’ installation offers a fluid mix of visual and habitual knowledge. Evoking a conversation between living and working environments, the impulse to archive material products becomes relevant. As objects have the ability to sustain memory, the act of retrieving these items from the surrounding environment becomes similar to an act of remembering. Whereas in the main space Arès’ objects are arranged in a manner similar to decorating a home, the adjacent room holds leaves, rocks, and a myriad of other found knick-knacks spread across the floor in a way that alludes to the documentation of artefacts. Most items are placed in compartmentalized boxes under clear categories, reminiscent of your grandma’s sewing box. Through this careful collection and the tenderness of sorting, each material product can be seen as embodying a previous sense of identity or personhood.
Whereas the process of mindful archiving is more immediate in Arès’ part of the exhibition, elements of gathering, organizing, and display are apparent in Guerrera’s presentation. In his miniature replica of the gallery’s structure, Guerrera presents a collage of Galerie B-312’s advertisements and press releases along the interior walls. Displayed in no direct chronological order, the model highlights the major events in the gallery’s thirty-year legacy. Built at a 2:1 scale, it is reminiscent of excavation sites where attention is drawn between what was recovered and what is missing. In contrast to the deliberate presentation of prints on the walls, the scaled-down office reads like a moment of interruption suspended in time. Occupied by empty chairs, partially opened filing cabinets, and a desk with documents and envelopes sitting atop, the space recalls Arès’ environment, in which the notion of being haunted by a previous occupant is prevalent. Excavating becomes a social and collective practice rather than a passive look into an intangible past.
In keeping with the overall theme, Provoquer transforms objects into a creative extension of time. Through acts of foraging and preserving moments of transition, Arès’ and Guerrera’s material heft represents the lifecycle of inanimate and precious objects. Directly referencing a multitude of personal and collective archives, the remembrance of an object’s activity addresses its conception, production, consumption, and eventual disposal. As foraging materials from the built environment requires attention and time, in both installations there has been great dedication to looking, selecting, and transporting each item. The impulse to then transform the space into a shrine to the forgotten parallels the work involved in mourning. Each item becomes a vessel for memory that is dependent on the duality that exists between erasing and re-creating, absence and presence, forgetting and remembering.
Running from March 19 to May 7, the second exhibition in the Conjuguer l’espace au temps series, Composer, foregrounds a similar notion of commemoration. Artists Moridja Kitenge Banza and Marion Lessard address concepts of identity, unity, and originality. Adopting the iconography of illuminated manuscripts, Banza makes use of the symbols of Christianity shared by Congo and Quebec in juxtaposing images of his home country with archival photographs of Montreal. With a collage of landmarks from both places, Banza highlights issues concerning dislocation with narrative and sentiment. As Marion Lessard’s installation, L’œuf ou la poule (2022) focuses largely on the history of how art is legitimized, both artists are concerned with the sense of what is real against what is remembered.
The thirtieth anniversary of Galerie B-312 closes with the last component of Conjuguer l’espace au temps, Engendrer, presenting Grosse Terre Boule by Zipertatou and Maxime Bruneau from May 14 to June 30. Unlike the previous exhibitions, this one is designed for children to interact with the creative surroundings of the gallery environment. By having the younger generation actively present in the space, Engendrer encourages us to project a sense of the future by mindfully looking toward past and present alike.
Conjuguer l’espace au temps | Provoquer
Galerie B-312, Montréal
January 20-March 12, 2022