Sentence, souffle et linceul

March 3 – April 28, 2018
Opening reception: Saturday, March 3, 2018 from 3-5 p.m.
Jannick Deslauriers: Sentence, souffle et linceul
Art Mûr, Montreal

Text by Martha Robinson

Jannick Deslauriers’ works, her subjects broken and decaying through entropy or more violent and intentional acts of demolition, tackle salient issues of the Anthropocene: transglobal commerce in weapons, energy and human beings, what the artist describes as “a collective history played out daily in news media.” Fractured, the “translucent and dislocated” form caught in a moment of demolition which is the eponymous work in Deslauriers’ Sentence, souffle et linceul is a full scale automobile: its form distilled from meticulously researched images of both intact and damaged vehicles; its bespoke distressed surfaces conveying a visceral engagement with the reality of “certain geopolitical issues” the artist seeks to address, the premeditated destruction which is “a symbol of our times.” The work, and the shroud in its title—‘linceul’—reference the human body, the inevitable bodies that are connected to such images in real life.

Deslauriers’ Possible disappearance: The Van Horne Warehouse (2017) embodies Heather Davis’ and Etienne Turpin’s trope of the homolithic earth, and speaks directly to questions the authors raise in Art and the Anthropocene:

If art is now a practice condemned to a homolithic earth—that is, to a world “going to pieces” as the literal sediment of human activity—how can aesthetic practices address the social and political spheres that are being set in stone?1

Like Possible Disappearance, Broken Line (2017) is this sediment of human activity realized, the works locating entropic decline as justly implicated, with the more intentional acts of destruction figured in Ambush (2017), in anthropogenic change.1

Deslauriers’ smaller works function both independently and processually—as the artist’s first foray into subject and form which may later be realized full scale. Convoy (2017) exemplifies this element of the artists’ practice, and too, Deslauriers’ engagement with questions of petrocapitalism which Davis and Turpin address: the immediacy of the scaled down “funeral cortège” of five frayed and decomposing tank cars in which Deslauriers hopes to locate the “issues inherent in the hydrocarbon industry…the transportation of fossil fuels a source of environmental catastrophes, diplomatic tensions and humanitarian crises.”

The materiality of the work, the transparent and translucent forms built of silk, aluminum mesh, and tulle speak to the commodification of objects and people that is either hidden from view or willfully rendered invisible to global publics. The weightlessness and transparency of objects which should, by any account, be anything but weightless, is like the breath—‘souffle’—of the exhibition’s title; inhalation and exhalation metonymic of the back and forth of global transportation networks, and transglobal diasporas.

In her own writing about her practice, the artist emphasizes the relationship between the sculptural works and a drawing or doodle: the darkened lines of black thread which trace the contour and describe the “object in space” conjuring the restatements of a gesture drawing; the line and texture fusing together in a graphic presentation that is wholly contemporary, at the same time it evokes Roy Lichtenstein’s appropriation of contour line and Ben-Day dot—as if Deslauriers’ forms are pulled from the pages of a graphic novel detailing what Turpin refers to as the “homolithic itinerary [of] collapse, catastrophe, apocalypse.”2

Writing about Joyce Wieland’s deployment of the textile arts in her practice, Lauren Rabinovitz observed the artist “literally cushion[ed] her message with the materials and further soften[ed] a tough political statement through humour.”3 Participating in this rich tradition, Deslauriers’ work challenges the viewer to consider consequences—’sentence’—by way of the ephemeral.

1. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, “Art & Death: Lives Between the Fifth Assessment & the Sixth Extinction,” Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies (London: Open Humanities Press, 2015), p.3. Emphasis in the original.