These Rooms of Earth and Stones

Curator: Simone Scholten

Artists: Michel Boulanger, Katja Davar

February 7, 2020 - March 13, 2020

Opening: February 6, 2020, 5:30 pm

In February, Galerie de l’UQAM will be closely observing the impact of human activity on our environment with These Rooms of Earth and Stones, an exhibition that brings together the work of artists Michel Boulanger (QC) and Katja Davar (DE). Organized by Simone Scholten (DE), the project furthermore serves as a collaborative and cultural exchange between a curator and an artist from Germany and an artist from Québec.

The exhibition

These Rooms of Earth and Stones focuses on the tracks left by human processing of the Earth. In the course of geological history, the landscape has changed greatly due to climatic shifts and its horizontal and vertical geological appearance has altered accordingly. Over the last 200 years, in particular through the industrialization of entire areas and the intensive mining of natural resources like gas, metal ores, oil, water or minerals this process has been accelerated.

Michel Boulanger and Katja Davar have made their shared interest in landscape transformation a central theme in a long-term discussion. Both artists are engaged with the increasing interconnections of human culture, natural environments and technology and this exhibition seeks through many mediums, to show how we are in a dynamic and permanent (re)negotiation with our environment. In a visual-metaphorical reflection, the presented works combine the visible changes of the horizontal landscape profile with an artistic exploration of the subterranean vertical sedimentary layers, in which the alteration of the terrain is the central motif. Juxtaposing soil and subsoil, the artists investigate the question of whether there is something similar to a mirror effect in nature that makes the human (technological) intervention in the landscape visible.

Katja Davar combines content and formal motifs from diverse contexts and eras into complex, poetic works. Her drawings and animations evolve from the taut contrasts of surreal, dreamlike or mythological elements and more sober aspects of scientific drawings and diagrams. She metaphorically drills into the subterranean layers of sediment, which constitute an inexhaustible reservoir of historical knowledge depicting images that implicate possible future developments. In contrast the artistic approach of Michel Boulanger is directed at an expansive and wide distance. He focuses on agricultural and farmed landscape areas which act as a metaphor for the eternal competition between man and nature, technology and environment. In his œuvre, semi-figurative hand drawings are adjacent to monumental, computer-generated vector graphics which serve as sources for 3D animations or voluminous sculptural drawings.

Katja Davar and Michel Boulanger mediate between the evident and the hidden traces of human civilization. Their work stresses the idea of playing with the ambiguity of a double-sided world, between the subsoil and the surface of the Earth.

The artists

Michel Boulanger, born in Montmagny, Québec, is a multidisciplinary artist that lives and works in Montréal. He holds a master’s degree in Visual Arts from Université du Québec à Montréal (1992) and a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts from Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (1984). Michel Boulanger has participated in several exhibitions in Canada and in countries overseas, such as the United-Kingdom, France, Spain, the United-States and Mexico. In 2004, his work was featured in a solo exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. His works furthermore belong to a number of public and private collections. Founding member of Galerie B-312, he is a professor at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’UQAM where he started Grupmuv, a research-creation laboratory dedicated to drawing and moving images with professors Gisèle Trudel and Thomas Corriveau.

Born in 1968 in London, Katja Davar studied painting at the Central Saint Martins School of Art in London, the Art Academy in Düsseldorf and the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. Davar’s work focuses on systems and processes. Drawing is the undeniable core of her practice although she regularly expands the field of drawing to other dimensions. Technological, ecological, economic and scientific findings or ideas are often the starting point of Katja Davar’s artistic reflections and these are translated into large-format drawings and meticulously produced animations. Since 2012 she has held a professorship at the University of Applied Sciences in Mainz for experimental drawing. She has exhibited widely in Europe and her works are held in several major collections. Institutional exhibitions include: Kunstverein Heilbronn, Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten Marl, European Kunsthalle, Bonner Kunstverein, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Kunstverein Freiburg and Akademie der Künste in Berlin (DE); Newlyn Art Gallery, Penzance in Cornwall, The Drawing Room in London, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art and Bluecoat Gallery in Liverpool (UK); Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai (CN).

The curator

Born in 1969, Simone Scholten is an art historian, art critic and curator based in Essen (DE). Among other things, she has worked for the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn, the ifa galleries and the international organization Stichting Germinations Europe, the Museum Kurhaus Kleve, the Municipal Art Gallery in Backnang and the Kunsthalle Gießen. Currently she is a curator at Kunstmuseum Mülheim/Ruhr. She has organized numerous exhibitions for venues in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. She was part of the research program Bien fait? Mal fait? Pas fait? Regarding the Artistic Practice at LUCA – School of arts, in Ghent (BE). Furthermore her research interests focus on the interactions between art and science as well as the use of traditional handicraft techniques by contemporary artists and graphic arts. Besides her interest in contemporary art she specializes in late medieval and renaissance art and the history of private devotion. She frequently writes essays pertaining to said topics.


Michel Boulanger would like to thank Grupmuv, a research-creation laboratory dedicated to drawing and moving images, Hexagram UQAM, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) and UQAM’s Programme d’aide financière à la recherche et à la création (PAFARC).