Opening reception: Saturday, November 9, 2019 from 3-5 p.m.
Jennifer Small: Resurrection
Art Mûr Montreal
Text by Anaïs Castro
For Nicolas Bourriaud, the flea market is a place where “past production is recycled and switches direction” and where “an object is given a new idea.” On the stalls of the flea market, objects are resurrected and given a second life. This is where Jennifer Small finds objects that she collects and that she uses in her work. The artist selects items for their beauty, patina and craftsmanship, but also for their inherent significance as cultural artefacts. These orphaned objects are relics of a recent past that allow her to connect to specific cultural times in history and re-contextualize their reading by propping them for a contemporary audience. Her means of working is a way to trace the trajectory of ideas as they remerge in contemporary culture.
For her first exhibition at Art Mûr in 2013, Small repurposed devotional articles to unveil the evolution of Quebec from a deeply religious society into a neo-liberal one, underlining the complex relationship that subsists in the Province towards its catholic heritage. More than six years later, Small opens up to a more global discourse for her second solo exhibition at the gallery. Titled Resurrection, the exhibition refers to the complex cultural context of the present, at a time when the United States have elected a president on the promise of restoring a different era: Make America Great Again. But for many, including marginalized groups such as LGBTQ2S*, for POC**, for immigrants and for women, the resurgence of this moment of so-called “greatness” is one that is accompanied by intolerant sentiments. It sanctions hate speech with the intent of dividing the people and polarize the political spectrum.
But while the subjects she addresses are often heavy, from the #MeToo movement, to the hateful acts of Charlottesville, West Virginia, and the Charlie Hebdo shooting, Small manages to address our loaded and testing cultural and political context with humour and wit. She uses humour because it is the better-equipped language to engage with the public on these questions. Humour carries an immediate emotional response that makes it a powerful tool of transmission. In an era of infinite news cycle, interminable scrolls on social media, alternative truths and celebrity culture, Small’s work holds up a mirror to society and if the image reflected is not a particularly flattering one, being able to laugh is a relief.
* LGBTQ2S = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, and Two-Spirit
**POC = People Of Colour