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BGL: Posterity, Prankster-Style

Parisian Laundry, Montreal Sep 25 to Nov 21 2009
BGL  <I>Usine des sapins</I>  2009  Installation view  Courtesy Parisian Laundry  /  photo David Jacques BGL Usine des sapins 2009 Installation view Courtesy Parisian Laundry / photo David Jacques

BGL <I>Usine des sapins</I> 2009 Installation view Courtesy Parisian Laundry / photo David Jacques

The press photo used to advertise BGL’s most recent solo exhibition at Parisian Laundry shows the Quebec City–based trio performing a kind of absurdist, conceptual-art shadow-puppet play. Using their feet to hold toilet paper rolls, sausages and a hatchet to cast shadows on the wall in the shape of their own initials, the image accompanies an immersive exhibition over the three levels of the Montreal gallery that is (perhaps ironically) titled “Postérité.” It playfully suggests that BGL’s take on their own legacy is, like much of their previous work, characteristically tongue-in-cheek.

Despite all the self-deprecating humour, this fall has been a watershed season for the artistic trio. Last month, Manif d’art released the first monographic catalogue on BGL, providing a timely survey of their multimedia installation practice, while this month sees the opening of the group’s second solo show at Toronto’s Diaz Contemporary, “New Sellutions.”

What marks all of BGL’s disparate projects is an ongoing interest in producing objects and experiences that occupy a tipping point between creative exuberance and destructive excess. Their Parisian Laundry exhibition, for instance, brings together the shell of a used, snow-coated skidoo, a provisional looking “flea market” displaying more than 10 years of studio ephemera and a frightening ornamental-tree factory that serve to meditate on our persistently object-based relationship with the natural realm. In particular, the group’s taxidermied fox speared onto an angular, fluorescent orange Plexiglas sculpture creates a startling and memorable mental image: a kind of visceral reinterpretation of David Altmejd’s crystal-encrusted werewolf pieces that speaks to the increasingly blurred boundaries between the commercial and psychic value of everyday objects. (3550 rue St-Antoine O, Montreal QC)

This article was first published online on October 22, 2009.

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