Michelle Bui. Pool of Plenty

Graduating master’s student in visual and media arts (MFA), UQAM

Artist: Michelle Bui

January 11, 2018 - March 3, 2018

Opening: January 10, 2018, 5:30 pm

Galerie de l’UQAM presents the exhibition Pool of Plenty by Michelle Bui, graduating master’s student in visual and media arts (MFA) at UQAM. In this solo show, the artist engages with a rediscovery of objects, materials, food items and plants that make our environment. Through a process of selection, assembly, and photographic documentation, Bui reveals the aesthetic qualities of these objects, their fragility and malleability. The result is a reflection on where material culture, advertising, desire and identity intersect.

The Espace magazine staff will be present during the exhibition’s opening to launch its new issue articulated around the theme of Wounds.

The exhibition

Michelle Bui is interested in the tenuous, sometimes fraught, and always symbiotic relationship between culture and commerce. While always apparent in the way we visually experience the world, this relationship most fully inheres in our connection to material culture. The accumulation of items consumed by both society and the individual transmit a tremendous amount of data about our identity. For Bui, our sense of self, our identity-consciousness, is communicated equally by the objects that surround us as by language-based discourses that otherwise might define us. The aesthetic, expressive, and symbolic qualities, as well as the materiality of the objects selected, allow the artist to explore personal themes therein. The various objects that Bui acquires – and sometimes creates – are subjected to presentation and ownership in ways that allow for their construction and arrangement to elicit tensions and overlaps that undermine the status of the object as commodity.

Pool of Plenty is an exhibition that brings together photographic work with which the gallery walls will be plastered. Bui transcends the decorative and ornamental language of advertising in a détournement that makes use of touch and smell to surpass mere visual spectacle. To do so, Bui rearranges objects selected for both their visual and tactile qualities in a presentation of photographic and sculptural elements that seduce the viewer, leading us into a subtle and uncanny sense of displacement. The shift in perception she achieves conveys the artist’s intention to make desire itself material, to bring it into being by and with these objects, to viscerally seduce us and to confront the viewer with surface reality.

The artist

Montréal-born artist Michelle Bui earned her undergraduate degree in painting and drawing at Concordia University before continuing on to do her MFA in visual and media arts at the Université du Québec à Montréal. In 2017, she furthered her exploration of the materiality of photographs at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts in Paris and represented emerging Canadian photographers at the Jeux de la francophonie in Abidjan. She was awarded the François-Xavier Marange grant for printing arts, and is next year’s artist in residence at Atelier Circulaire. The residency will be an opportunity for Bui to develop works at the intersection of sculpture and photography, of which a selection of pieces was included in the Projet Pangée exhibition Rêverie earlier in 2017. Additional works resulting from this exploration will be included in the group exhibition Appareillage at Québec City’s VU PHOTO in February 2018.

Espace #118 (Winter 2018) – Wounds

Can we heal our wounds? And to do so, must we relegate them to oblivion or consign them to a form of liberating reconciliation? In the field of aesthetic representation, how can an artistic gesture bring relief to the spirit? The texts of this issue, launched during the opening of Maria Hupfield. The One Who Keeps On Giving, elaborate various perspectives on these questions.

Support provided by

The artist wishes to express special thanks to Atelier Circulaire for their financial support as well as for the technical assistance which have made this exhibition possible.


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