September Montreal Art Exhibition | Still Alive: Art and the Passing of Time | Daniel S. Sáenz
Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Here lies an appealing paradox: the decay of these soft, delicate, and beautiful flowers is, in fact, a powerful challenge to the ideology of artistic permanence.
As viewers, curators, gallerists, collectors, and art historians, we expect the artistic object to survive the test of time, and to last beyond our time in the name of profit, knowledge, and culture.
We hope that the artwork that we create, purchase, look at, and write about will continue to exist in place and space long after we are gone, as if somehow art were exempt from the rules that govern matter and form. As time passes, materials decay, shapes shift, but every effort is made to maintain an ‘original’ state, a prelapsarian condition of sorts before the destruction of the flesh is made apparent.
French philosopher Alain Badiou writes that
“Art is not ideology. It is completely impossible to explain art on the basis of the homological relation that it is supposed to maintain to the real of history. The aesthetic process decentres the specular relation with which ideology perpetuates its closed infinity. The aesthetic effect is certainly imaginary; but this imaginary is not the reflection of the real, since it is the real of this reflection” (“The Autonomy of the Aesthetic Process,” trans. Bruno Bosteels, Radical Philosophy 178 : 32).
Indeed, while the artwork itself is not an ideology, our concerns with the permanence and immutability of the artistic object shows the operations of an ideological process that seeks to advert ruination.
In this art exhibition, we find local artists who work in a variety of media and visual languages, from large scale abstract oil paintings to figurative watercolours and photography. The exhibition design includes floral arrangements by Montreal florist Rian Goldman, which complement the art gallery set up in fascinating visual and conceptual ways.
The art gallery’s choice to include flowers in the white cube poses a challenge to the aesthetic codes of the exhibition space, a challenge that results in a captivating tension between the permanence and monumentality of the artworks on display and the ephemerality of withering nature, between the standardized notions of art display and the living matter of these flowers. The ink, oils, crayons, and watercolours spill over beyond the frames and into the exhibition space through the leaves and blooms that accompany us as we move through the gallery.
Although the artworks remain unchanged and speak to the timelessness and permanence that we have come to expect of art, the floral arrangements take on a performative dimension, acting as witnesses to the passing of time, the decay of matter, and the impermanence of things. Here lies an appealing paradox: the decay of these soft, delicate, and beautiful flowers is, in fact, a powerful challenge to the ideology of artistic permanence.
Still Alive: Art and the Passing of Time is on view at Atelier Galerie 2112 (2112 Rue Amherst,
Montreal, QC H2L 3L8) from September 3rd to 10th 2019. The vernissage will take place on
September 5th, 2019, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. This exhibition of contemporary art is organized by Galerie Hexad.
FRENCH BADIOU QUOTE
“L’art n’est pas l’idéologie. Il est tout à fait impossible de l’expliquer par le rapport homologique qu’il soutiendrait avec le réel historique. Le processus esthétique décentre la relation spéculaire où l’idéologie perpétue son infinité fermée. L’effet esthétique est bien imaginaire : mais cet imaginaire n’est pas le reflet du réel, puisqu’il est le réel de ce reflet.” (Alain Badiou, “L’autonomie du processus esthétique,” Cahiers Marxistes-Léninistes 12/13 (1965): enoncé 1)