Friday, June 16, 2006

Stuff Seen - Samuel Roy-Bois



Initially, I was going to give the man a B+, but then I saw the catalogue and realized that M. Roy-Bois had accomplished something that made me slack jawed, so I upped the grade. Basically, last week I trucked on over to the Musée d'art contemporain to see all three shows that they have up. I ended spending four hours, yes four hours. I paid attention to every last little detail I could find, something ridiculous like 12 pages of notes. So when I looked at the catalogue one of the things that jumped out at me was that in the turning rooms thing (you know, the one called Satellites?) I noticed that one had a blue carpet and the other one had a beige carpet. I asked myself 'now, why would they have gone a changed the carpet?' Because I was convinced, 100% certain, ready to bet dollars to doughnuts, that both of those spinning rooms had the same color carpet.

I went back and re-read my notes, nothing there. Which served to convince me that there in fact had been a change. I tried to imagine why - had someone spilled some coffee? Had they discovered that the blue carpet contained asbestos? Had they decided that it looked too much like the blanket in Ghetto, so they changed it in order not to confuse people? Given what I had written down in my notes, something as significant as that, I would have noticed and noted.

So I figured that I should truck back to the museum and see if I had in fact been so impressed with M. Roy-Bois' work that I experienced it as one thing, and not a collection of individual pieces.

Short answer: I was wrong. My memory had failed me. And the power and intensity (ok that's just a little bit over the top) of M. Roy-Bois' work made me lose control of my critical faculties.

Now to backtrack a little bit, the show, called Improbable and Ridiculous (in translation) is anything but. Basically, two revolving T-shaped room-like things, three drawings of high rise buildings, and an interesting sorta bed-like thing. It is very probable and extremely rational, although as you've read, my response wasn't (which actually makes the title of the show more understandable).

The first drawing is called Antiheros, it is on the wall to your right as you enter into the show, now that I try to figure out why it is there, I figure that M. Roy-Bois did is so as to show the importance and significance of bad generic architecture but it does not make it obvious. It only gets obvious when you see Satellites. As I mentioned two revolving T-shaped room-like things, pretty much what you'd expect to see at the home show. Except that both of these room-like things, are pretty much decrepit. The carpet (either color) is very badly installed, and there are plaster patch jobs on the wall. Pretty much what I would expect to see if some sleazy-ass telemarketing firm that only hired midgets in order to save money (smaller people means lower ceilings means reduced heating costs) would leave behind after they found an even cheaper space to rent. Or if I was a full patch member of the upper middle class what I would imagine a shooting gallery would look like.

By putting these pathetic looking models of rooms on a pedestal M. Roy-Bois is pretty much making it extremely obvious to just about everybody that shoddy design by bad architects trying to copy Walter Gropius is not a good thing. I got a big kick out of having to constantly shuffle around as I tried to look into two revolving T-shaped room-like things. There are three large-ish windows that gave me a chance to look in from almost every perspective (except one). The outside of these two revolving T-shaped room-like things is unfinished wood and what I assume is insulation - just as you'd expect if they were going to be dropped into a larger structure that already had the outer shell finished, like the building in Antiheros.

After you've had your fill of the two revolving T-shaped room-like things, if you are as curious as I was you follow your nose and end up in a second room in the museum (a real room). On either side are two more drawings Curator and Ghostwriter (although Curator is named Commissaire in French, and I translated it). Unfortunately I don't remember which one was on which side. For the record, the blue carpeted Satellite is on your left as you enter the museum space, and it is on the inside front cover (or your left) as you read the catalogue. But what is most wicked cool is the interesting sorta bed-like thing which is called Ghetto.

I got a serious rush out of crawling into it (you are actively encouraged to do so by a sign on the floor), and once in I figured it was pretty much an urban tent. It has the same outside construction as Satellites but on a much smaller scale. 6 feet wide by 4 feet 8 inches high by 6 feet 8 inches long. It looks, especially from a distance and on a pedestal as it is in the museum like it is portable, like a tent, but due to the construction method way more urban than anything made out of Gore-Tex or whatever they are making tents out of these days.

However, once I was inside, it was cool. I started thinking instead of a tent, it actually was more like one of these post-modern (or whatever fancy term you feel like using) canopy beds. Or if you want to go for the most obvious idea a cage for rats. Between the name of the piece, the drawings of the buildings, the bolt on the inside of the door (so you can lock yourself in) and other smaller details, M. Roy-Bois takes the obvious and starts flogging that dead horse, hard, really hard.

It would be enjoyable to riff off of the titles of the drawings and try to figure out what was going on in M. Roy-Bois' mind as he was assembling the show (somehow I get this vague sensation that the titles of the drawings were the last things done). But I will hold myself back from such a pleasurable task, and let you mull that one over. What I did that was even more fun, if you can believe it was possible, was to take off my shoes, crawl into the Ghetto and wait for someone else to come looking. Looking out from inside a piece of art when some is looking at the art itself is way cool, especially when they are not expecting it (mid week early afternoons, after lunch would be the times I would suggest).

Be forewarned, it stinks of paint (or at least it did when I was there) and because the spring on the door is quite springy if you are as old and creaky as I am, getting in ain't a breeze. I'd also like to know if the electrical outlet is working (while I was there, I was unable to find out if it indeed did work).

Then as an aside, 'cuz this is getting long, in the catalogue, those pictures that made me go back for a second time are taken inside of Satellites, which in real life is impossible. The picture of Ghetto is taken from the outside, while a person is inside. Or in easier terminology bass awckwards.

Then finally for the technical stuff: The show is up at the Musée d'art contemporain, 185 Sainte Catherine West until the 20th of August. The catalogue costs $12, the museum $8 and it all is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except June 19, and until 9pm on Wednesdays.

And I almost forgot, the picture used for the invitation is the very same picture used for the cover of Tangent #6, the British 'zine published by my friend Karen D'Amico, who also has an art blog called Fluid Thinking. M. Roy-Bois is featured inside as well. Tangent #6 (along with 1 through 5) is available here at the gallery if you would like a copy.

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