Tuesday, January 05, 2016

SIMON BILODEAU

installation view

ModernDallas.net repost of my article.

Circuit 12 Contemporary’s current show of Simon Bilodeau is black & white, and read all over with meaning. You might think that Bilodeau is interested in binary comparisons with his limited palette, but I see a very complex art show that plays with theatrics and narrative.

The giant girder with mirrored covered objects demands your immediate attention as you walk in the door. So, I have to walk around and inspect this site-specific installation. These shiny objects among the simulated decayed girders reminded of my trip to Turkey, visiting the Ottoman palaces. As the empire declined, the Sultans continued to overspend in order to keep up appearances that the empire was wealthy. This only hastened the end of the House of Osman. One could draw a similar parallel to the decline to infrastructure in the United States while political spending has reached impressive numbers. Over and over again, empires fall because the resources are squandered in the wrong places. Yet, the museums are filled with the riches of these past civilizations that overspent their sustainability. Bilodeau’s work brought into focus history and possible future outcomes.

Embedded in the far back wall is a mirror sculpture with grey painted rectangles as frames. This work helped to draw me away from the center piece. It is pretty common to see a mirror piece at art fairs or contemporary spaces these days, but Bilodeau’s doesn’t seem to use the mirror as reflecting one’s image, but rather as an object that shimmers. With effort, I can see myself, but I get the feeling the work isn’t about me putting myself into the work like so many other artists seem to be implying. Rather, the mirror reflects light that gives the appearance of something valuable, yet now commonplace. On some of the walls are paintings with quiet geometric designs or purely abstract shapes. One series is a study of a rock painted multiple times. I can’t help but think about coal in these works. Not because my father was a coal miner, but I am sure that was a factor, but rather Bilodeau’s black rock could be one of the reasons for the wasteland set in the middle of the room. Coal, along with other fossil fuels are anything but clean. Because of fossil fuel consumption, some climate models paint a very apocalyptic view of the future if we don’t make some fuel consumption changes soon. I don’t know if Bilodeau really had this aspect in mind, but because this issue is in zeitgeist, I can see how this angle could apply.

One element Bilodeau constantly brings to each show, is his past work. That is, his past work that didn’t find homes during his shows are burned, then nicely repacked as ashes and stored in shadow box frames. He labels the work as a record for each past show. Many Modernist declared that the past should be burned and we should start fresh and new, but few had the guts to do this to their own work. And I can’t think of a more fitting thing to do, for an artist that celebrates dystopia. Circuit 12 Contemporary and Simon Bilodeau will end the show on October 12th.

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