Artists explore narrative, texture and the importance of the digital in new exhibition
Walking into Laboratoire Photo at Galerie Deux Poissons invokes a sudden feeling of coldness. The room is white and crisp, lined with framed photographs that are meticulously centred along the walls. As the name suggests, this space resembles a laboratory; a place for the experimentation and dissection of photographic art.
Laboratoire Photo features the works of Michelle Bui, a UQAM alumna, as well as Edward Maloney and Alana Riley, Concordia University alumni. This is the second of a series of laboratory-themed exhibitions. The first, Laboratoire Peinture, was held May to July of 2018. This style of presentation was designed to allow various artists to explore their practices. Rather than uniting their art through a common theme, they are linked by a single medium. A series of five images lines the left hand wall of the gallery.
Riley, a visual artist and photographer, captures a scene through a sequence of photographs. The composition consists of a ferry ride, outtakes from a journal entry titled ON LOOKING, and three snapshots of couples wherein one man is the subject of each photo. As per the title of the journal entry, this approach to the medium makes a commentary on observation, looking and perceiving. This brings into light the well-established history of photographing moments and people, with a contemporary twist.
Bui’s work is vibrant and differs from the other pieces in the space. Placed at the back of the gallery, the works are distributed along both walls. Her three photographs vary in size, consisting of still lifes. The photos play with texture and contrast; delicate wildflowers differ from the tough texture of leather-like materials, bright blue and pink hues stand out against the darker foliage of leaves and flowers. Through the use of materials and the composition of the images, the viewer can acknowledge the importance of photographic practice for capturing the essence of the objects.
The last third of the gallery space features the works of Maloney, a multidisciplinary artist and curator. At first, the photographs are barely discernible, but after a closer look, they are captivating. The images are of landscapes and have a glitched appearance. Whether of waves or mountains, the photos share the same tonality. The nature of landscape photos in contrast to the digital effect makes the viewer question the use of technology and editing techniques in art. Despite using images of landscapes, Maloney manages to convey a focus on the importance of the digital within contemporary art.
While each artist explores their medium through an entirely different lens, they approach their subject with distinct intents. Whether it be through still life or depictions of scenes, the artists remind the viewer of the sentimentality and technicality that is part of a longstanding history of photographic art.
Laboratoire Photo is on display at Galerie Deux Poissons, at 372 Ste-Catherine St. W., Suite 414, until April 6. The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.