Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine - 2022

Step by Step: On Walking and Process

Some contemporary artists turn sculpture’s conventions on their heads. They consider the relations between us humans as malleable materials, much like the environments in which these occur or the objects exchanged therein. Through exploratory and performative—indeed brief or ephemeral—processes, the resulting artworks resist the demands of quantifiable results and measurable impact. They refuse the urge to be seen at all costs, choosing rather to honour the encounters that art makes possible. Other artists choose to deal directly with materials; they use open and speculative methodologies inspired by new materialisms or founded on personal mythologies. This commitment to matter proceeds, at times, through a desire to share skills oft eclipsed by contemporary art or, at other times, through a wish to explore the contours of certain technologies.

These approaches are diverse and, although they can sometimes seem contradictory, do however have an important element in common. They all directly question social hierarchies and established policies, shedding light on preoccupations that extend beyond the artistic ecosystem and cutting broadly across current societies. In short, these approaches can be considered like processes: individual and collective steps which identify ways of doing, of transmitting and exchanging; systems yet to be invented; spaces yet to be cleared. With these processes, artists can imagine the world differently, claim what is possible, renegotiate lifestyles, redefine relationships. They can commit to the long game, which recognizes urgency without giving in to the crisis. They can get moving—step by step.

In that spirit, moving step by step—walking—appears to be one of the most eloquent gestures of the contemporary experience. It is evocative, linked in turn to the social, the economic, the spiritual, the organic. As a practice, walking cannot be limited to a simple hobby; it expands one’s area of freedom in a way that reintegrates long neglected fundamental needs: getting fresh air, taking some time, caring for oneself and for others. It unfolds in a borderless space-time, according to one’s own—or the seasons’—rhythms. It is constantly being reconfigured by new paths, new journeys, new roaming. Embarked upon intentionally and attentively, its duration can either illuminate or interfere.

Thus, for its tenth edition, the Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine de Trois-Rivières invites contemporary artists to reflect on their own steps and approaches in determining future paths; in creating spaces to process the world.

By Daniel Fiset, art historian and member of the BNSC 2022 Artistic Orientation and Selection Committee.

The text was inspired by exchanges between members of the committee: Audrey Labrie, artistic director of the BNSC and art historian; Lynda Baril, executive director of the BNSC; Anne-Marie Lavigne, executive and artistic director of Atelier Silex; Guylaine Champoux, artist, lecturer at UQTR and Louise Paillé, artist and art historian.

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