A Comfortable Indifference
For its summer exhibition, Galerie Hugues Charbonneau presents a selection of works that highlight the challenging conciliation between the capitalist system and the environmental movement.
Clearly, time is running out while the acceleration of global warming endangers human populations, threatens biodiversity and causes extreme weather events. Denial is no longer an option. And yet, the unrestrained quest for economic growth and our current dependence on fossil fuels compromises our efforts to limit the increase in global temperatures and the decarbonisation of the economy. A shift toward united and sustainable principles must be taken on a global, local and individual level.
In the gallery, Benoit Aquin invites us to confront two human-made environmental disasters. First, his celebrated project, The Chinese “Dust Bowl” (2006-2009), portrays the desertification of the former Silk Road in Inner Mongolia, while his series, Mégantic (2013), documents the worst land-based oil spill to date in North America – now emblematic of the careless management surrounding the hydrocarbon lobby. For her part, Cynthia Girard-Renard presents a large painting from her project Unicorns and Dictators (2014), first exhibited at the Esker Foundation in Calgary. The work features a hybrid character reminiscent of a trickster, with smoke-belching factories for ears. He is surrounded by anxious rabbits inquiring about the future, while greenish clouds inscribed with words like, ‘NATURE’, ‘PROFIT’, and ‘CAPITAL’, drift overhead.
Isabelle Hayeur takes us elsewhere entirely – underwater – with her multi-year project Underworlds (2008-2015), documenting aquatic scenes of completely impaired ecosystems. This unusual vantage point effectively portrays the degradation of various bodies of water through urbanisation and massive industrialisation. Finally, David Lafrance’s series titled Earthships (2015), depicts the self-sustaining dwellings of the same name, juxtaposing these with miniature bucolic scenes and schematic or abstract interpretations of the homes’ energy efficient systems. Lafrance invites us to reflect on this fantasized green paradise, which sits diametrically opposed to our hyper-consumption and our technological dependence.
The title of this exhibition was inspired by Josée Blanchette’s article “La confortable inconscience”, published in Le Devoir on February 26, 2016.