You have until Sept. 13 to catch what the buzz around Altmejd is all about
If you’re not one of the hundreds of visitors who have already attended David Altmejd’s newest exhibition, Flux, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, then you should probably hurry before it’s over. Surely, you’ve at least heard about it—it’s been advertised in just about every metro station—but if you have a car and don’t take the metro, read on and find out what the fuss is all about.
This exhibition was actually the very first collaboration between the MAC of Montreal and the Modern Art Museum of Paris, no small feat. Some of Altmejd’s work has already been shown in Europe, where his popularity is growing.
Flux is an odd name for an exhibition made up of sculptures that are, by definition, motionless. “Flux”, however, is a synonym for instability, variation and continuous change. The title actually fits well in its context, since the message conveyed by Altmejd’s works is mostly that all living things must evolve and that they always have consequences on their surroundings. In fact, having pursued biology studies at first, Altmejd seems to approach the theme of nature in all of his creations. Moreover, although the sculptures are, of course, inanimate, a clever use of mirrors and light, as in “The University 1,” creates an illusion that the structures keep indefinitely duplicating themselves.
Flux is also an illustration of the sculptor’s evolution throughout the years. Some of the works put on display were made as early as 2001 and 2003. At that time, he was only starting his career and was mostly doing minimalistic work, trying to transpose the universe as he saw it, straight from his mind. There are more recent works as well, including a sculpture he made on site during the installation of his works at the MAC.
As he explains in an interview with Josée Bélisle, the museum’s curator, he meant to organize his works in a way that would lead the visitor through the creation of the universe, starting with the Big Bang, with nothingness and darkness, illustrated mostly by his early works (such as “Sarah Altmejd”) and ending with a more structured society that would be allegorized by his more recent works (“The Flux and the Puddle”).
Many great artists are easily recognizable for the symbols they incorporate into their art—for instance, ants were used by Dali as a symbol of decomposition and Michelangelo was known to use hands as a symbol of creation. The list goes on.
As you walk from room to room, you notice recurring symbols, such as werewolf heads, ants, holes, hands, mirrors and plexiglass cubes.
Explaining the werewolf heads, the artist expressed to Bélisle that he was always fascinated by the way movies depicted a man’s transformation into something completely different, which is what influenced him to create the sculpture “Le désert et la semence.”
An exhibition is never simply about displaying someone’s creations. It is also about how these creations interact with their surroundings and how the general impression affects the visitor. All through the exhibition, the visitor’s perception is influenced by the lights, the disposition of the sculptures, the colour of the walls. What is interesting about Flux is that, right from the beginning, you feel as if you have been invited to look into the artist’s deepest thoughts.
As you enter, the room is dark, the walls are painted black and the few spotlights are aimed at the sculptures, so all of your attention is on them. The holes in the creations are almost like tunnels and the mirrors, which allow the visitor to see himself reflected on the sculpture, give an unusual closeness to the work. The next rooms are contrastingly bright and, finally, in the very last room, walls are covered with mirrors in order to match “Flux and the Puddle,” which also incorporates mirrors. This last room is basically the synthesis of the whole exhibition.
All the materials and figures seen previously are reunited inside one giant plexiglass cube. The centerpiece and the walls reflect each other creating the uncomfortable feeling of being trapped inside the cube.
The exhibition may or may not be to your taste, but you should see it for the phenomenal response it has been getting, and make up your mind about it. The artist, Montreal’s very own David Altmejd, certainly knows how to make an impression.
Flux will be exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary Art until September 13th.