Fourth act of the QUADrature project
Curator: Bénédicte Ramade
Artists: Maryse Goudreau, Kelly Jazvac, Clara Lacasse, Jessica Slipp
March 11, 2021 -
Opening: March 11, 2021, 5:00 pm
Galerie de l’UQAM reveals Deep Times, the fourth and final chapter of the QUADrature project, conceived specifically for digital screens. Curated by Bénédicte Ramade, the virtual exhibition presents works by Maryse Goudreau, Kelly Jazvac, Clara Lacasse and Jessica Slipp, and examines different temporalities – those of intermission, acceleration, deceleration – to which humanity and its environment are subjected. Galerie de l’UQAM once again joins forces with LOKI, a Montréal-based design studio, for the project’s web design.
The Anthropocene, our current epoch of patent human agency, is an expanse of time when geologies, wrought by centuries of exploitation, have unleashed accelerated chaos onto societies and ecologies. While our own pandemic lives might seem to have slowed down, earthly rhythms have maintained their unchecked pace. Such is the disjointed context and shared period in which our four artists have dedicated themselves to long-term projects. Patience-testing periods like these make fertile months for scientific inquiry and for deep dives into subject matter like research ethics and environmental responsibility – durational activities incompatible with the hectic tempo of crisis. These deep times can allow for a more genuine engagement with the moral demands made by one’s subject.
Maryse Goudreau has spent a decade creating a “social history” of the beluga whale, that marine mammal so enigmatic that it seems almost mystical to many of us. Her creaturely subject has drawn the artist ever deeper into areas that defy expectations and predictions.
Kelly Jazvac combed the shores of the Pacific Ocean with geologist Patricia Corcoran and oceanographer Charles Moore, looking for what the trio calls plastiglomerates, i.e. a newly-recognized form of conglomerate “rock” that contains both naturally-occurring sand and plastics from marine debris. Jazvac’s collection wittily blurs the taxonomic and aesthetic categories that these geo-cultural specimens themselves defy.
Jessica Slipp’s latest work is the fifteenth such performance in which she metamorphoses into (a) rock. Applying her methodology in-situ, whether in industrial areas, farmland, or natural landscapes, she further eschews traditional distinctions, elemental or otherwise, that uphold categories of what can be found on earth.
Clara Lacasse photographed the uncannily empty interiors of a mid-renovation Biodôme de Montréal while its typical inhabitants were relocated to other conservation institutions. Her series documents the progressive installation of various systems that undergird this “Space for Life” and make it an arena for scientific observation which, when shown empty, reflects on how we collectively see its intended contents.
This exhibition hopes to respond to the temporal, ecological, and ethical demands of these deep times. Compare the time these four artists spent working on their respective projects to that of viewing the videos on display, or the time looking at plinthed samples or framed photographs. As curator, I wonder if its numerically-determined time could become more pliant, then, given the self-reflection demanded by our furious earthly epoch, this Anthropocene. We must each decide to belong to the Earth as a collective and political commitment to it as a common good. These deep times are wracked by impatience, impermanence, and impossibly painful realizations as yet unarrived at by humanity.
About the curator
Bénédicte Ramade is an art historian, critic, and independent curator. Her doctoral research was dedicated to the critical rehabilitation of the American ecological art movement. Since 2016, she has delved into the increasing entanglement of knowledges and artworks with/in the Anthropocene. In conjunction with Toronto’s Ryerson Image Centre, Ramade was the contributing editor of the 2016 exhibition catalogue The Edge of the Earth. Climate Change in Photography and Video published by the gallery. Her curation of the thematic exhibition Apparaître-Disparaître earned her an inaugural fellowship from the Grantham Foundation for the Arts and the Environment in 2019. As of Winter, 2021, she is writing Vers un art anthropocène. L’art écologique américain pour prototype, a monograph that will elaborate on her doctoral thesis project, with Les presses du réel. With 10 years of experience teaching at Université de Paris 1 (Panthéon Sorbonne), Ramade works as a sessional lecturer at both Université du Québec à Montréal and Université de Montréal.
About the artists
Maryse Goudreau, born in Campbellton, New-Brunswick, is a multidisciplinary artist rooted in a lifelong connection to Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral territory of the Lnu’k (Mi’kmaq) people. She lives and works in Escuminac, in the Gaspé region. Her work spans image-creation, documentation, and social practice (acts of care). Eschewing binary categories, her output weaves together both static and interactive photography, video essays, immersive environments, art as action, and even sound art. Goudreau endows her art with social engagement, namely through a series of participative projects throughout her home base of the Gaspé Peninsula, including Manifestation pour la mémoire des quais and the inaugural and final Festival du tank d’Escuminac. She has most recently exhibited at the Venice Biennale (Montréal PHI Centre Pavilion), Dazibao, the Leonard & Bina Ellen Gallery (both Montréal), the Museo de la Cancillería / Instituo Matias Romero (Mexico City), VU, centre de diffusion et de production de la photographie (Quebec City), the Annenberg Space for Photography (Los Angeles), Centre Bang (Chicoutimi), and the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wilfred Lam (Havana, Cuba). Goudreau is a multi-award-winning artist and recipient, among others, of the Lynne Cohen Prize from the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. Her work is included in numerous institutional collections, including that of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. marysegoudreau.com
Kelly Jazvac is a Canadian artist based in Montréal, Canada. She is also part of a research team examining plastic pollution comprised of scientists, artists, art historians, philosophers and writers called The Synthetic Collective, whose work has been highly influential on Jazvac’s artistic practice. She exhibited at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Art Museum at the University of Toronto. Her recent exhibitions include the Eli and Edyth Broad Museum (East Lansing, Michigan), Ujazdowski Castle CCA (Warsaw) and FIERMAN Gallery (New York). Her work has been featured in National Geographic, e-flux Journal, Hyperallergic, Art Forum, The New Yorker, Canadian Art Magazine and The Brooklyn Rail. Her collaborative art/science research has been published in several scientific journals, including Nature Reviews, GSA Today, and Science of the Total Environment.
Clara Lacasse holds a BFA with a major in photography from Concordia University. She is inspired by nature, science, and the collective imagination, i.e. by the stories that together comprise our sense of History. Using the image-based medium of photography, Lacasse critically reflects on how visual culture is produced and how its outputs become instruments of knowledge and power. Her projects emerge from collaborations with scientific, medical, legal or cultural institutions in which the artist’s role is that of mediator between the realms of science and culture: the result being a reciprocal evaluation of the truth claims staked out by each side. In 2019, Clara Lacasse completed an artist residency at Fermont as part of artist-run center PANACHE art actuel’s programming (Sept-Îles) and was the recipient of VU, centre de diffusion et de production de la photographie’s Bourse de soutien au développement (Quebec City). In 2021, the Galerie d’art Desjardins (Drummondville) is presenting the artist’s first solo exhibition.
Jessica Slipp is an interdisciplinary artist currently living and working in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal). Her work investigates perspectives of landscape and how we exist with the world — from the particles that randomly composed it, to the very nature that we embody. Born of settler ancestry, Jessica recognizes her status as a guest on unceded Indigenous lands and, in her artmaking, looks for ways to deconstruct dominant perceptions of landscape through performative interventions that focus on the fundamental relationship between body and earth. She believes that, in this time of social and ecological crisis, it is vitally important to shift anthropocentric modes of thinking about the world toward a more caring and compassionate approach. As part of various group exhibitions, Jessica’s works have been shown in a number of Canadian provinces. Upcoming exhibitions include the Neutral Ground Artist Run Centre (Regina, SK, 2021) and the FOFA Gallery (Montréal, QC, 2022). She holds an MFA (2019) and BFA (2012) from Concordia University. jessicaslipp.com
QUADrature is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Quad (1980), a work created for television in which four actors move laterally or diagonally in quadrangular set, according to a set of strictly determined instructions. Presented for the first time in 1981 under the author’s direction, Quad is characterised by scenic restraint, minimalism, and abstraction; actors traverse the stage in every possible permutation of their permitted movements, the four analogous figures moving from solitude to unity without ever touching each other, leaving centre stage empty at all times. The first iteration of Quad originally broadcast on German television was then reproduced with slight variations, at the author’s instigation.
Beckett’s work resonates strikingly with the global pandemic reality facing us today. Quad is confined to the television screen, its actors to a confined area; the anonymity, concealed faces, and repetitive movements will seem familiar to many of us. Likewise, QUADrature has emerged in a context of digital screens, masked individuals moving routinely in predetermined areas, social and physical distancing. Between two people, there is always already an empty space that Beckett referred to as the “danger zone.”
With the support of Galerie de l’UQAM colleagues Anne Philippon and Philippe Dumaine, director Louise Déry has conceived QUADrature as a locus in which four guest curators develop an iteration of the project, each involving four artists. The virtual exhibits in this series will be released over the course of several months, in keeping with the Beckettian dramaturgy of Quad, culminating in a final presentation of works by all four curators and sixteen artists. While QUADrature is conceived for the digital arena, the notion of shortcoming is germane to its form: it is intended as a forum for curatorial experimentation, interrogation, trial-and-error, and new beginnings. We hold out hope that under ideal circumstances, the works in this series will be shown in the physical space of Galerie de l’UQAM so that they might be enjoyed in their full, experiential materiality.
More on QUADrature
Directed by Samuel Beckett and broadcast on Germany’s Süddeutscher Rundfunk on October 8, 1981, as Quadrat I+II (in two distinct stagings). In rehearsal, Beckett intimated that “between the two parts there is an intermission of 100,000 years.”
Samuel Beckett, Quad et autres pièces pour la télévision, followed by L’Épuisé by Gilles Deleuze. Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 106 p., 1992
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