Pierre&Marie: Grenade, Ballon et artifices
Text by Robin McDonald
Artist duo Marie-Pier Lebeau and Pierre Brassard are no strangers to artistic collaboration. Since coming together in 2006 as Pierre & Marie, the pair have founded À gogo!, an eight-person collective formed in 2008, and Acapulco, which has remained active since 2009. Luminous and lustrous, Pierre & Marie’s work shimmers with metallics, glass, and glitter. Their installation, multimedia, and sculptural works playfully engage with the materiality of objects and with the “thingness” of things, forging connections between the pleasures of disaster and the politics of play.
Simultaneously whimsical and foreboding, the collective’s oeuvre mines popular and childhood cultures to explore how ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ can collide in unexpected ways. In the seven years that Pierre & Marie have been creating art together, the two have continually transgressed and (re-)invented spaces through employing a bricolage of art, architecture, and design. Whether they are building an igloo of twigs and mirrors beneath a canopy of leaves, as in Igloo/Maison (2010); transforming a library foyer into a space of carnival, as they did with their 2012 exhibition Bref et Scintillant; or installing one-legged benches that reference the bracketed shape of both diving boards and pistols, as in Tremplins (2011), Pierre&Marie treat space as another raw material – something to be molded, manipulated, and modified. In doing so, they create new affective and sensorial experiences that intervene in the conventions of the everyday, constituting a fantastical re-imagining of the relationships between people, objects, and their environments.
With their exhibition Grenade, Ballon et artifices, Pierre & Marie probe the connections between catastrophe, glamour, spectacle, and longing. Here, the gallery-goer is immersed into a series of tableaux, each more mystifying than the last: two taxidermied squirrels scuffle over a wooden crate, gnawed-through and leaking gelatin-encased bullets; a deflated lone red balloon whirls exasperatedly around a ceiling fan; and a mound of sparkly molten guns, grenades, and rubble rises up from the gallery floor. In each case, the viewer arrives late on the scene – the narrative has already unfolded, or, in some cases, is in medias res. Though, at first glance, this world appears to be one of fantasy and play, it cannot remain so for long. Like the balloon that collapses over the blade of the ceiling fan, the emotional weightiness of the exhibition is palpable. Redolent with childhood’s gleaming red confetti and adolescence’s charcoal grays, Pierre & Marie’s work both provokes and disturbs. A flirtation with the sublime, these works are at once seductive, effulgent, tragic, and dangerous, embodying the romanticization of violence and all of the dangerous potentiality that this entails.
Pierre&Marie are based out of Québec City. They have received the support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (2008, 2010, 2012), Première Ovation (2010, 2012, 2013) and SODEC (2009).