Serve this gentleman a beer and kiwis
Having a bachelor's degree from Concordia University and a master's degree in visual and media arts from Université du Québec à Montréal in 2018, Steffie Bélanger lives and works in Montreal. Her first major solo exhibition, L’utilité de l’inutilité, was presented at Salle Alfred Pellan in Laval in 2016. She has taken part in various events, residencies and group exhibitions, including a residency in Est-Nord-Est at Saint-Jean-Port-Joli in 2015, at Espace en pratique in Quebec in 2017 and Jeu et détournement at centre Lethbridge in 2020. Recipient of a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for this exhibition, her research makes the assumption that the art object is fundamentally and fortunately useless; Using manipulable sculptures and performances, the artist offers us a hilarious and romantic reading of the functional object.
The artist thanks the Canada Council for the Arts for its support of this project.
In the large room of Galerie B-312, Steffie Bélanger invites us to a social evening in which the sculptures become the host, the guests and the elements of the fireplace. With the exhibition Serve this gentleman a beer and kiwis, she flirts more than ever with cabinet making through materials and techniques. The wood is highlighted by the juxtaposition of amaranth and beech species while assembly by interlocking and gluing has been favored over hardware. Recalling certain furniture or objects traditionally designed in wood, the sculptor plays with the codes of this craft, but she emphasizes that this is not her goal. For example, the wine glasses she has made are well executed, but she has deliberately omitted to hollow them out. This choice brings us back to a concept that is dear to her: the art object is fundamentally and happily useless. In this new work, movement is evoked by certain elements—the arch allows one to imagine a rocking motion, the rope implies that it can be pulled, etc.—or it is activated by motorization. However, potential activation is no longer a priority. Making them autonomous, she animates her sculptures of their own will and the titles become clues to capture their “thoughts” or “emotions”: I pretended to like it, I cried in my car, I even quoted you in my last shrink’s appointment. Through the choice of these titles, which are all sentences heard or read somewhere—like the one for the exhibition, which is a prefabricated sentence in the Word software under the watermark insert tab—Steffie Bélanger provides a second layer for the reading of her work. Conceived with a lot of humor, the evening, festive at first glance, turns out containing its share of discomfort and uneasiness; if there is laughter, what color would it be? To be experienced to find out.
– Joannie Boulais