Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Samuel Roy-Bois at the Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa

Samuel Roy-Bois’s Not a new world, just an old trick at Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) is one of the more recent works by the Vancouver-based artist that continues on a trajectory he has been following for many years: making art out of the mechanics of displaying art. By fabricating new spaces within art galleries, such as a recording studio or a private apartment, he effects a mise en abyme that mirrors the function of the space within which it is located and augments its potential. Sort of like an ark with an art gallery inside, the installation at CUAG is an affecting architectural folly that offers an intimate portrait of a public collection with all its idiosyncrasies. I've gone to see it a number of times and as the end of the exhibition nears, the sweet sorrow of parting with it increases.

Samuel Roy-Bois, Not a new world, just an old trick, 2013, wood, paint, clear acrylic, and art objects (Photo: Justin Wonnacott)

While its title suggests that there is some mischief at play here, and Roy-Bois has certainly pulled some pranks in the past, I really don’t sense any maliciousness. The installation’s title is more likely an honest assessment of art as one of the few bulwarks we've got against the passage of time. The longer I spent in there and the more I looked, the more I saw thematic associations and formal links between the elements of the work. It was almost too much to bear.

The complete text of my review of the exhibition was published here on the November 25 Akimblog.