This exhibition featured four unique installations from a group of Concordia grads
Groundwater, an exhibition stemming from the imaginative minds of four Concordia grads, took place from Sep. 15 to 19. Alexey Lazarev, Manuel Poitras, Loïc Chauvin, and Constantinos Giannoussis each presented their own unique installation, while also collectively adhering to a specific idea. Lazarev explained that “though the projects are all different, in one way or the other, we deal with processes that are hard to be seen. We came up with the name ‘Groundwater’ as something present, important, but hard to see.” The exhibition also places importance on exploring the permeability of borders. Whether these borders are geopolitical, conceptual, or physical, they vary for each artist.
The first installation is Lazarev’s Memory Fabric III. This work features images from his family archives in St. Petersburg, as well as photos he acquired from the St-Michel Flea Market. These photos are presented as an installation of woodblock prints that have been meticulously pressed onto several rolls of 60-foot paper. It is evident that Memory Fabric III was an intricate project for Lazarev to take on. He explains that some rolls of paper took approximately eight hours to produce. Observing these prints, the viewer is overcome with a certain nostalgia. While these memories do not belong to the viewer, there is something hauntingly familiar about the faces that stare back. When it comes to creating art, Lazarev is inspired by the themes of finding oneself, finding one’s place in the environment, feeling out of place, and dealing with different types of anxieties.
The next installation in the exhibition is titled DIY Flood: the reading room from Poitras. This work features several pieces of furniture and décor that are upended, dangling over a carpet. On the carpet rests a small table that showcases several books, all of which share a common theme: capitalism. Although the sound of running water is soothing to many, this certainly isn’t what the artist was going for when he crafted this piece.
“The installation is relaxing, but also discomforting, because of the water’s contact with these objects, which we usually assume to be safe,” explained Poitras. The artist also notes that his work tends to explore the natural world and environmental processes, especially regarding climate change. Fraught with anxiety, this piece confronts the often turbulent relationship that humans share with the natural world.
This work evokes an unsettling feeling: water tubes weave through the furniture and decor, serving as a stark reminder that our own materials and lives could very well be reclaimed by natural elements. It’s difficult for the viewer to not reflect on their own relationship with their environment, while also reflecting on how much they rely on the materials around them.
Next in the exhibition is Chauvin’s Ellipse. Chauvin’s work seeks to explore the connection between creation and destruction in both the natural and cultural world. This installation may look unsuspecting at first glance, but with careful examination, viewers can discern a subtle image amidst the grain of the laser engraved wood panel that the artist uses. The scene depicts a clear-cut forest. Next to this work is Produit Dérivé. In this work, Chauvin presents a small piece of wood that has been, as he explained, “put back into circulation in nature as plastic simulacra of the original object.” The piece of wood is accentuated by a light grey background that is reminiscent of a serene body of water.
Finally, there is Giannoussis’ 740 Avenue 80 Laval. This installation introduces a garden, recreated from Giannoussis’ memory of his grandfather’s. There are plum pits scattered in a patch of dirt, which are juxtaposed with wooden boxes arranged in a square and feature delicate paintings of ripe plums. There is a feeling of loss that arises when observing the discarded pits among the dirt. In Giannoussis’ artistic statement, the artist explains that despite his grandfather’s recent move to a new location, he still exhibited “an awkward but benevolent devotion to this now-lost space.” This work exhibits the deep ties that both the artist and his grandfather share when it comes to their idea of home. The vibrant purple of the painted plums offers a sense of vitality to the piece, and is a tender attempt at keeping the artist’s important memories alive.
Groundwater offers an intimate glance into these four artists’ notions of home, culture, and the natural world, as they encourage viewers to reflect on the environments they now inhabit, or may have in the past.
Photographs by Ashley Fish-Robertson