A word from a curators

TO BELIEVE

For over fifty thousand years, the human being has been on a quest to master and organize the world, shape it to his image, as imperfect as it may be. Through evolution, aggression, revolution and regression, he hoisted himself to a position of domination over all living species. After stretching out the very limits of excesses and “isms”, he is bewildered, as never before, by the precariousness of his constructs and the decline of the planet he inhabits. So here we are, in 2020, faced with the “rediscovered” fragility of human condition, and the shock waves rippling through the precarious structural support of the neoliberal capitalist system. Searching for alternative solutions, we continue to believe, both individually and collectively.


The 9th edition of the Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine of Trois-Rivières (BNSC) is part of the wider field of artistic practices related to spatiality. In these uncertain times, the BNSC offers nine artists and four groups of artists the opportunity to identify and explore global organisational beliefs of special concern to them. Analytical and far removed from mainstream religious and political narratives, a gathering of their unique initiatives in one space transports us through visions, critical observations and causes, seemingly modest at first glance, but whose scope falls within an important systemic force of transformation. We had initially suggested to our guest artists to examine beliefs from all sides of the spectrum, be they rallying or paralyzing. In a bid to move forward, the artists have chosen approaches that rise up against inertia.


In today’s world, defining the sphere of ideologies and of beliefs represents an objective of immeasurable scope and the BNSC knowingly elects for a position of vulnerability and ingenuousness. TO BELIEVE is a term that reveals what we hold as essential, what dictates our actions and principles, predicated on our comprehensive daily efforts in a time when we are seemingly confronted by a turning point in history. In expressions encompassing a variety of viewpoints and sculptural strategies, the presented works carry within themselves a desire to think differently and take action. The human as structuring agent is at the centre of these artistic productions which intersect numerous aspects and ideologically call out to each other. TO BELIEVE also implies relying on intuition, rarely on a sense of certainty. We therefore present a range of surprisingly imperative suggestions that inspire renewal.


Inclusion—Polyphonic Story

Increasing the visibility of certain marginalized groups is currently one of the key missions of art. This concern for inclusion makes for a polyphonic story; the transmitters, at long last multiplied, reflect the complexity and the heterogeneousness of the world. Driven by a feminist exploration in her Creatura Dada video (2016), Caroline Monet fully embraces the seemingly apolitical yet politically active Dadaist movement to advance the cause of conspicuously absent Indigenous women. The work stages an anachronic and eccentric universe where six First Nations women sit down to a lavish banquet. This undated time capsule, featuring champagne, oysters, lobster and other telling symbols, celebrates intergenerational female strength, thus upending the balance of power and imagining society under a new lens. Following the same path of paradigm shift, JR examines the anonymous faces of those living in the shadows. His larger-than-life collages of portraits incorporate the beauty of human diversity to urban and rural landscapes. For his Women are Heroes film (2010), he crisscrossed many countries to photograph the ordinary women on whom collective life greatly depends. With Inside Out / Sculpter le social (2011-2020), he deploys digital era strategies. Relying upon decentralization and the idea of networks, he offers citizens the tools required to launch Group Actions within a vast planet-wide project that shines a light on plurality and social cohesion. La Famille Plouffe, another group of artists, continue their travels within the vernacular and collective memory with Filent dessus, filent dessous (2020), inspired, on this occasion, by an embroidered fresco featured in the very first edition of the Passe-Partout TV series. Created by a person with intellectual disabilities, and using a technique developed by the Atelier Le Fil d’Ariane, the burlap and multicolored floss embroidery is reinterpreted and accompanied by objects from the Musée POP collection. A poem to finesse and simplicity, the work explores this technique, putting forward the creative universe of a fundamentally vulnerable micro community.


Parable—Exemplifying Meaning and Image

A few decades ago, life was structured by the religious realm. In a conversation about today, Janet Macpherson revisits the rich iconography of her Christian heritage. The procession of a hybrid and ill-treated bestiary also conjures up the great pilgrimages, Bruegel’s parable of the blind leading the blind, as well as the unremitting exodus of present-day migrants. The strangeness of this moving multitude offers a window on the strength and resilience of the small porcelain creatures. Migration (2016-2020) brings to mind the idea of trust that substantiates etymology of the word belief. As for the works of Joanne Poitras, they resemble burial mounds and suggest the presence of a ritual. They bear witness to human activity and trace the story of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue landscape. In the 1930s, the victims of the economic crash were lured by the Church and other authorities to settle in this immense territory, already inhabited by First Nations peoples for over eight thousand years. It is through fallen icons of development—burnt-down remains of a church and a heap of slag, toxic waste dumped into the environment after the extraction of copper and gold—that Joanne Poitras accounts for the ambiguity of our quests and enshrines memory.


Calling on the Collective—Beyond the Individual

The human being fans the fear of being touched by the unknown. Yet, when surrounded by his fellow creatures, barring times of pandemic of course, his fear reverses; it becomes a strength allowing him to shake up the order of things. In this perspective, Charlene Vickers shares a belief in the incarnation of territory—the connection between the body and the memory of ancestral lands—and lays down the foundations for the long process of reparation needed to overcome the consequences of colonialism. The installation Speaking With Hands and Territories (2019-2020) joins the fight against the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project in unceded territory of the Salish peoples. Mud balls, gathered locally and formed by the local collectivity, are reminiscent of the solitary strength of numbers and the abstraction of frontiers. In addition, by binding chairs, moccasins—created from writings and pictures on beer cartons—and blankets, Sleep Walking (2016) illustrates the pathway towards the subversion of Indigenous cultural anemia. In quite the same spirit, ATSA invests the public space to create situations and contexts, both pragmatic and poetic, designed to fuel new encounters, awareness and social change. Sharing a meal, a fundamental activity of community life, is a catalyst for social interaction, in what is nevertheless one of the greatest challenges of humanity. Since 2016, thousands of conversations on three continents have been initiated through their Le Temps d’une Soupe project, and the 9th edition of the BNSC invites you to its first intra muros presentation.


Deconstruction—Hidden Side of Systems

The capitalist system, originating in the Western world, and its worldwide tentacles—financial establishments, foreign diplomatic institutions and multinationals—are carriers of injustices and excesses that many artists scrutinize with a critical eye. Measures of Inequity (2016-2020), by duo Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, draws on graphics and diagrams from academic papers, reports and other specialized publications in order to materialize, in sculpture, the measure of inequalities based on a wide range of disciplines: economics, sociology, management, gender studies, etc. Relying on data collected over the past hundred years, their works visually expound how specialists have developed and characterized, by State and social group, the distribution and access to health care, education, income and wealth. Inequities, as well as environmental and health disasters reveal the blatant failures of systems allegedly based on inescapable natural laws. If the infamous invisible hand of economics and its resulting organizations are a matter of belief rather than science, should we not consider other fictions? This is the basic premise in the embassy of Union des États (2008-2020) by Moridja Kitenge Banza, a sardonic mimetic installation where the artist unseats the colonial model and welcomes unconventional discourse. For the purpose of transmission from one culture and from one era to another, the conception of a world specifically fashioned for Western societies has always been outrageously simplified and adapted to the commodity of dualistic patterns. With Entropé (2020), Patrick Bérubé scatters hints and references borrowed from philosophy, mythology and science throughout the room. He embeds shapes and objects into an imposing monolith evocative of a computer server. Through multiple links and potential interpretations suggested by his installation, the artist lays bare the binary abstraction supporting our tentative certainties to stir up doubt and convey the underlying contradictions and exacerbated oversimplification surrounding our presence in reality.


Transformation—Staging Matter

The physical and symbolic properties of matter and the diversion of meaning from existing objects expands the vocabulary of sculpture. Through the process of investing their practices within the material world, many artists communicate the energy and the power of transformation. With Panorama d'un cycle pop (2020), BGL illustrates the innate human ability of self-renewal throughout time, a faculty that sustains its hope in humanity. Through the image of life-size dancers, originating from various locations, the artists etch out a precarious balance, an omen, that everything is as it should, in appearance at least. The bronze, from which are made the popsicle stick characters, creates the illusion of fabricated semblance. The work clearly articulates a reflection about the human potential to conceive, shape and cobble up all kinds of codes and rituals designed to conceal his fragility. First Rain (2020) by Krishnaraj Chonat invites to an individual and collective questioning of our relationship to mass consumption. Inspired by the 1987 Montréal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer, this creation stages two park benches covered in dead leaves. This contemplation-friendly environment, the active lungs of an urban space, finds its extension in the adventitious roots of the sculpture, much like those of a banyan, an intrusive sacred tree also symbol of immortality. Made from the recycled copper tubes of air conditioning ducts, the work exposes the paradoxical status of refrigeration and its impact on global climate warming. The art of André Fournelle was born within Québec’s militant sculptural art movement in the 1960s. Calling upon prima materia, this artist pursues, with constancy and temerity, a quest akin to the Great Work in Alchemy; the act of transmuting base metals into precious matter becomes a metaphor for the human aspirations to exert change in the world. Rooted in reality, his works point out a state of fact or memorialize a space. Therefore, Ligne d’or / Ligne de vie (2018) underscores the randomness of the span and value of life. This sculpture is the result of a performance held at a foundry, to be echoed in a live creation in Victoriaville during the course of the year.

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