Galerie Hugues Charbonneau is delighted to launch the year 2017 with a group show bringing together Isabelle Hayeur, Maria Hupfield, David Lafrance and Alain Paiement. Recomposer la ville / Spaces for Agency sets out to question notions of the “public” and “collective” in urban space. The exhibition is an invitation to reflect in a critical and different perspective on the celebrations being held as part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary.
While not exclusive to our city, the questions we raise touch on: inhabiting city space and urban territory; established authorities; citizen resistance and engagement strategies; issues of peaceful coexistence — or its possibility in certain current political contexts. The works are presented along two mainlines in which, on one hand, the artists reimagine the topography of the city, and on the other, they explore ways of culturally and socially re-appropriating one’s environment. These mainlines which overlap in the gallery perhaps make it possible to glimpse the political potential that the works and places of art can signify in their immediate communities.
Isabelle Hayeuris proposing two composite works. The photograph Day Trading (2006) shows the construction site of a building with an ambiguous function, which is in fact artificial because it is entirely the result of a digital manipulation. The video Pulse (2015), which is inspired by the student strike of the spring of 2015 in Montreal and the social struggles surrounding it, brings together a myriad of images found or filmed by the artist, who herewith denounces neoliberal austerity measures and erosion of political liberties. For her part, Maria Hupfield presents the video Survival and Other Acts of Defiance (2011) in which she is shown jumping on the spot, in a loop, and thus infinitely. Reinforced by the sound of tin jingles worn on her boots, she strongly affirms her presence as an indigenous woman who is constantly (re)negotiating her environment. On the floor, a large metallic X invites visitors to join in with her.
David Lafrance is presenting sculptures in multi-coloured wood that form part of the series Places publiques (2016). These imaginary city planning projects suggest a grandness and a dazzle that are paradoxically troubled by drab splashes or the affixing of disproportionate botanical sketches on their surface. Finally, Alain Paiement brings us a new large-scale photographic work,Voisinage contextuel (2016), in which he disregards the functional side of the Montreal city map and reduces the macro to the micro. He suspends the practical relationship to city space to instead recompose it in dialogue with the humans who collectively inhabit and animate it on a daily basis.