Two sides of a flat surface ...
BNSC Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine de Trois-Rivières
and Musée Pierre Boucher presents a project by Paul de Guzman
19 June to 31 August 2014
Two sides of a flat surface are not the same ...
… is the title of a sculptural installation for the BNSC Biennale nationale de sculpture contemporaine in Trois-Rivières, Québec (Canada). For the biennale's theme of "perdrePIED - lostFOOTING", duality is artificially played out in a space that is temporarily separated. Two sides of a flat surface are not the same is a site-specific architectural installation that involves bisecting the exhibition space diagonally by constructing a temporary wall made of building lumber and drywall, dividing the exhibition space into two unequal sections. Duality acknowledges the existence of opposites ... of light and dark ... polished and raw ... minimal and maximal ... permanence and ephemeral ... active and passive. It's as if we are compelled to choose a side, and by staying uncommitted or "on the fence", a sense of "perdrePIED - lostFOOTING" is (un)comfortably achieved. The wall is a reminder of separated realities, a realization of how the "grass is always greener on the other side". One side of the wall is spare, minimal, polished, bare, somewhat devoid of any evidence of life or lived experience, with five two-inch holes drilled through the wall as mechanisms to observe the reality on the other side. This voyeuristic platform allows for a limited view of what may lie beyond the wall. However, stepping to the other side through side entrances reveals a maximal, raw, experiential reality teeming with lived possibilities. On this side are embedded new sculptural works and locally found ephemera giving the impression of an archaeological excavation and a site of existential residue. A makeshift temporary shelter made mostly from cardboard and duct tape provides relief and respite for the weary. This side of the wall posits the idea of architecture as both catalyst and container of extracted and invented experiences borne out of newly-formed and historical memories. The installation considers the significance of both empirical, archaeologically-defined facts and personal didactic experiences of truth as contributors toward grand historical narratives through officially sanctioned doctrines.
Duality abounds in every level of reality, and architecture is not spared from it. As traditional "hardened" notions of architecture conjure up ideas related to monumentality and longevity, these same spaces concurrently evoke "softened" feelings of memories and contained experiences. If indeed "the walls have ears", then walls as architectural artefacts accumulate memories. If one imagines to converse with a wall, what might it say? Extracting information from these structures require patience and a lot of inventive listening. Two sides of a flat surface are not the same hopes to create a dialog about architecture’s role as a mechanism of control, how architecture retains memory and how architecture’s history is influenced by a nomadic and temporary existence. Hopefully, this proposed anthropological and dualistic exercise in separated realities uncovers information about our systems of existence through the architecture and spaces that we build.
Paul de Guzman, June 2014