RANDA MADDAH— EMILIE SERRI — GUILLERMO TREJO— KIM WALDRON
Curators — Marthe Carrier, Stéphanie Chabot, Emmanuelle Choquette and Émilie Granjon
In collaboration with Galerie d'art Desjardins de Drummondville
ABOUT THE PROJECT
eXcentrer is a year of special programming presented at the Galerie d'art Desjardins de Drummondville and curated by the directors of the four artist-run centres in Belgo: Marthe Carrier (Galerie B-312), Stéphanie Chabot (Centre des arts actuels Skol), Emmanuelle Choquette (Arprim, centre d'essai en art imprimé) and Émilie Granjon (CIRCA art actuel). Together, they have brought works from their respective programs into dialogue to develop a generous and accessible programming that presents a wide range of media and artistic approaches. Marking the beginning of a new orientation for the Galerie d'art Desjardins, this programming will be launched at a festive event and will continue through four group exhibitions.
As we travel the world as never before, discovering communities, countries and people, we are also building walls, marking borders, to distinguish ourselves in this global hubbub. In this incessant movement of openness, curiosity and discovery, fracture lines are being drawn at the same time - withdrawals, cracks, closures. Like Narcissus who is lost in the mirror of the world, stunned by its shimmering and blinding reflections. Citizens of the world, who exactly are we? Is the mirage of globalization levelling or even erasing our cultural, social and political affiliations in favour of a global economy that does not care about borders and states? What do our territories stand for? What are the underground sources? How do the smell of wet earth, the glow of a scarlet sky, the dull sound of footsteps in the snow, the hardness of stone, fit into our bodies? Violence. Voluptuousness. Songs, music, stories, transported by time. Cries, words, whispers. Movement. Displacement. Like so many anchor points. Like so many figures of a present and past memory being written, inscribed. For this exhibition, Espaces identitaires, we have invited artists whose practice draws on these registers. The video Light Horizon by the artist Randa Maddah takes us to the Golan Heights, her homeland (the artist now lives in France). In a slow ritual of gestures from everyday life - she sweeps and cleans the place, furnishes the space, ornaments it - the artist reappropriates a ruined house, destroyed during the Israeli bombings in 1967, during the Six Day War. Adjacent to the borders of Israel, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, the Golan Heights occupy a strategic position due to the height of their plateaus. Thus, Syria and Israel dispute over the limits and claim control of the Golan Heights. The video shows the artist contemplating the landscape below. It is not her house, her village has not been the target of the confrontations. Yet the devastation is real. Light Horizon stands on the border line, like a mirror of the exiles. By occupying this abandoned house, the artist stages mechanisms of resistance and re-appropriation. Born in Montreal to a Belgian mother and a Syrian father, Émilie Serri examines her filiation with Syria, a country she knew very little about. The video installation Green Screen (R0G255B0) consists of a suspended light screen and sound boxes. The letters and numbers in the title refer to the chromatic value of the green screen, a screen used in cinema to superimpose two visual layers. Rather than inlaying film sequences, the artist shows stories through sound and narrative. On one side of the screen, we can hear her father's voice telling fragments of his native Syria interspersed with a synthetic voice referring to tourist guides. On the other side, projected, one can read sentences gleaned from the web, taken from the daily life of Syrians living there. No images: only words and writings remain, ausculting a real or fantasized experience of a country that is not very accessible today. With An Essay about immigration, identity and geopolitics, Guillermo Trejo, a Mexican artist living in Ottawa, offers us a work in which he brings together, in a single image, the photographs taken from his two passports, the front and back of which he also reproduces, along with their registration numbers. This series traces the official line of his dual identity, sometimes Mexican citizen, sometimes Canadian resident. The assembly is raw, without frills. In a direct and punchy way, a line is drawn, both a border and a junction of its new identity. For the Protesta series, of which he proposes a new iteration here, the artist extracts sentences from public and social media that he reinjects into the gallery space. Printed on news-paper newspaper? and reminiscent of the street manifesto type, the artist uses the graffiti covering techniques used by the Mexican government to mask the untimely display of blatant dissent. -Kim Waldron's Made in Quebec series was produced in China. The artist stages herself in a variety of work situations. She offers her time in recognition of China's important contribution to the accessibility of consumer goods, from which the West greatly benefits. Dressed in a grey smock, the artist can be seen cooking in a restaurant, delivering bottles of water, making clothes, cleaning floors, etc. It is interesting to bring this series back to his entire visual practice, where each body of work revolves around the artist's self-representation in different performative contexts of a social or political nature. It offers itself in a multiplicity of identity roles. In a recent autobiographical publication, Work, Hope and Honesty, the artist examines her practice from the perspective of her cross-cultural origins: European, American, New Zealand and Canadian. The migration of peoples is a recurring phenomenon in the history of humanity, whether by choice, by obligation, by necessity. What defines our territory? How does cultural heritage and identity affect who we are? How are new ways of doing, producing and thinking woven?
Translated from original French text*