31 August 2006 - 7 October 2006
Opening Reception 18 December 2012 8pm
Mercer Union is pleased to announce the opening of two new exhibitions on Thursday August 31st, 2006, at 8pm.
“With reams of fluorescent office paper, glue sticks and expended fluorescent light tubes, Allard creates her work by shaping the sheets of paper around the tubes and then installing the resulting forms upright and at varying heights. Like information, there are spikes and recesses with contour contingent upon the space. It is elegant and efficient. “
– excerpted from the brochure essay by Brian Joseph Davis
Michelle Allard (Toronto/Vancouver) is an artist based in Toronto and Vancouver. Recent exhibitions include “Transformation/Metamorphosis at Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Japan, ‘In the Pink’ at Association Pollen, France, 2005; “Extruded Expanded’ at YYZ Artists Outlet, 2004, and will be exhibiting at Eye Level gallery in Halifax in early September, and will be showing solo work at Diaz Contemporary, Toronto, in November. She has taken part in several residencies; Association Pollen, France, 2005; Aomori Contemporary Art Centre, Japan, 2005, and Aceartinc in Winnipeg, 2004. Michelle Allard is represented by Diaz Contemporary, Toronto.
More Information As it Develops
Information: Data flow, words, money, signals and numbers, the very buzzing hum of the world. How can I prove this? Statistical models are not only weak analogues for conveying the organic logic of said buzzing hum, statistics are also, humorously enough, more information.
Of the writers who have tried to describe information, William Gibson believed it was “Lines of light, ranged in the non-space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.” For Guy Debord it was “Capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes image.” As far as descriptions of the un-describable go, either of these postulations resonated well enough for their time: Gibson’s fictional passage having been taken up as a mantra for futurists looking for a digital El Dorado; Debord’s aphorism shouted by students wishing to raze the modernist state and its implicit, soft oppression.
Despite the apparent distance between the two quotes, both are making the same wager that in the post-industrial era economies would not be patched, repaired, and powered by Marx’s proletariat or Ford’s assembly line workers. There would not be the clanking of machines, but the hum of information being brokered at a profit and—coming on down the trough to where we are—herded at a deficit and loss by us.
Temps, call centre operators, content providers—we are no “console cowboys,” to use the name Gibson gave to his anti-heroes. We are closer to the characters of the film Office Space. Successful absentees at our luckiest. At our most shit-outta-luck, fired without ever knowing it, due to an accounting error.
Uncertainties generated from the production of information (Is it even a product? Am I a worker?) have always haunted office spaces. Franz Kafka, for example, built his fictional, bureaucratic worlds on uncertainty.
Uncertainty is also Vancouver artist Michelle Allard’s method behind the work Flourish. With reams of fluorescent office paper, glue sticks and expended fluorescent light tubes, Allard creates her work by shaping the sheets of paper around the tubes and then installing the resulting forms upright and at varying heights. Like information, there are spikes and recesses with contour contingent upon the space. It is elegant and efficient. In the budget for this exhibition the artist estimated the total cost at $139.82.
Kafka the writer and Kafka the clerk would both smile.
She calls her chosen material “un-heroic,” not in the way I used the word above, but to define her material choice in opposition to what’s often used in sculpture and architecture: bronze, marble, or brushed concrete. There are resonances, however. Walk through a business district or office park. Marble or brushed concrete are the permanent illusions that support the final, fatal illusion of permanence. But inside all those buildings, paper is the discordant note that cuts through the fluorescent hum, as if the pulping and pressing process didn’t quite squeeze out paper’s semi-organic status. Like kudzu, it creeps and grows over desk and recycling bin. More information. More paper. It’s an unsteady, organic system that’s revealed through and after Allard’s labour intensive installation process.
Of that process, Allard’s best move is keeping the paper empty. All information itself has gone missing and, standing back a little, even the buildings of stone and metal have gone missing. The city—and I cannot look at her installations and not see cities or at least the spontaneous cause and effects that drive cities—is now just the paper. Plain and blank with lights fully receded and the spectacle cancelled, there is just the flourish and flicker of this crystalline growth underfoot. As errant water or a good gust of wind could flatten it, it remains very uncertain.
And that’s all the information I have.
Brian Joseph Davis, 2006