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Artistic duo show 'an opera on video’ at the FOFA Gallery

Yannick Desrenleau's (MFA’16) outgoing show as Bronfman Fellow with creative partner Chloë Lum (BFA’15) incorporates video, music and live performance
April 26, 2018
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By Kerry McElroy

Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, <i>What Do Stones Smell Like In the Forest</i> (2018). Production still. Performer: Marie-Annick Béliveau. Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, What Do Stones Smell Like In the Forest (2018). Production still. Performer: Marie-Annick Béliveau.

After two extremely productive years as a recipient of the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art, Montreal-based artist Yannick Desranleau (MFA’16) and his longtime collaborator Chloë Lum (BFA’15) are presenting their exhibition What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest?​ in the FOFA Gallery.

As the culmination of the Bronfman fellowship, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? is ambitious in scope and thoughtful in content. It’s a meticulous orchestration of sound and movement, flooded with the bright colors, textures and shapes that these artists are well-known for.

Lum and Desranleau (formerly known as Seripop) have exhibited widely as an artistic duo for the last ten years. Their work has been collected by the Victoria and Albert Museum and by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. In 2016, Desranleau was awarded the prestigious fellowship that celebrates promising artists and recent graduates from Concordia and UQAM.

Combining video and live performance

Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? (2018) FOFA Gallery. Photo: Guy L'Heureux. Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? (2018) FOFA Gallery. Photo: Guy L'Heureux.

Desranleau describes the exhibition as “an opera on video” that combines components of live music and dance performance. The piece shares the interior monologues of a character wishing to expand their limited mobility through their senses.

"The inside of my skull is hollow and heavy. I'm as heavy and damp as unfired clay," The Golem sings.

The Golem, played by mezzo-soprano Marie-Annick Béliveau, is the protagonist who lumbers through the video, weighed down by heavy clay limbs, grappling with the physical and mental limitations brought on by illness and persistent pain.

“In this respect, the project functions as an auto-fiction about [Lum] coming to terms with her condition – a recent diagnosis of a chronic illness,” says Desranleau.

The exhibition also features a two-night solo-performance by Sarah Wendt titled The Lead Apron, which echoes the emphasis on sentient bodies and objects that is apparent throughout Lum and Desranleau’s video.

"We've been interested in this relationship between bodies and objects for many years since we've been working in installation. But with this award we were able to steer our practice to a stronger affirmation of our interdisciplinary interests,” says Desranleau.

Not just material resources – it's the people

Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? (2018) FOFA Gallery. Photo: Guy L'Heureux. Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? (2018) FOFA Gallery. Photo: Guy L'Heureux.

More than anything, says Desranleau, a Bronfman fellowship opens up one’s options, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of access to equipment and collaborators. 

He enthusiastically recounts how the fellowship afforded him access to equipment in numerous Concordia spaces. It gave him everything from welding materials to space and time in a dynamic fine arts community. 

"It's not just material resources – it's the people. Having access to other sections of the Faculty of Fine Arts that as a visual artist you might not usually have access to has been the high point of the award,” says Desranleau. 

Desranleau’s receipt of the Bronfman gave the duo an ability to create elaborate pieces as well as a chance to grow their practice internationally. They want to continue drawing on the cross-disciplinary relationships forged at Concordia and in Montreal.

Work that is exciting, stunning and intricate

Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest (2018) Production still. Performers: Karen Fennell, Mary Williamson, Maxine Segalowitz. Chloë Lum & Yannick Desranleau, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest (2018) Production still. Performers: Karen Fennell, Mary Williamson, Maxine Segalowitz.

Jennifer Dorner, director of the FOFA Gallery, says that Desranleau and Lum’s installation is quite different than what is usually exhibited at the gallery. 

“Because of the cross-disciplinary nature of the installation​, with its many materials and components from video to opera and dance, this work is exciting, really quite stunning, and intricate,” she says.  

Dorner describes the Bronfman Fellowship and its annual showcasing of creativity and talent as a powerful component for Montreal’s artistic infrastructure.

“It’s good for the gallery, good for Concordia, and good for the artists as well.”

Exhibition dates and times

What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? runs from April 23 to May 25

Vernissage: April 26, 2018 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Performance: The Lead Apron. The Lead Apron is a chapter within the exhibition cycle What Do Stones Smell Like In The Forest? A solo performance work for French horn interpreted by Sarah Wendt, The Lead Apron is a reflection on the affective relationships between sentient bodies and objects. 

Dates: May 3, 2018 at 7 p.m. + May 24, 2018 at 6 p.m.
Location: Black Box, Room EV S3-845



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