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Janice Kerbel
From September 6th 2008 to October 11th 2008
Exposition solo

Curator: Marie-Josée Lafortune

Janice Kerbel made a peculiar entrance into the art world: in Bank Job (1999), she meticulously envisioned a bank heist in London, providing a minutely itemized timeline of the steps to follow, with views of the bank from various angles and plans of the building, the city, and the escape route. The methodology, with its penchant for fictionalized documents, is characteristic of Kerbel’s practice. The artist takes up conventions, period references, and recognized expertise that she applies and studies like an anthropologist, examining field samples and consulting with specialists. Quite spare and restrained, her work borrows from conceptual strategies in which language and performative text are essential components.

Three Marked Decks (1999) consists of three decks of cards— Piatnik Vianna (standard), Bicycle Riderback (poker), and Bee Club Special Diamond Back (blackjack)—, each set of which is printed onto a sheet. On first glance, the designs seem to follow their models. On closer inspection, however, one makes out slight alterations in the patterns. Practised viewers will recognize their potential, with the absence of a motif, the number of petals on a decorative rosette, or the subtle extension of a spiral indicating a card’s value. The exercise requires a certain “expertise” and, as such,encapsulates the particularity of Kerbel’s work: a perceptual phenomenon in which the viewer is the“invisible” subject. Her creations, offering the promise of an action that will never be realized, lie on the threshold of this promise, inviting us to imagine and extend what they conceptualize on paper.

Remarkable (2007) is a series of typographical posters announcing fantastic situations that Kerbel envisioned in response to the context of the Frieze fair in London, for which the artist conceived the work. The text is performative, as the size and form of typeface governs one’s reading of the work and emphasizes its event-making nature. Each poster tells of the exploits of a remarkable woman demonstrating supernatural qualities. These exploits are a series of variations on the act of seeing, of looking, of honing one’s vision so as to perceive the announced phenomenon (the work of art). Initially put up in and around the fair, the posters preserve all their immediacy and textual impact in the gallery. As in Three Marked Decks before it, this series demonstrates Kerbel’s understanding of the codes (visual and textual) and aesthetic conventions that sustain her work and allow it to balance action with thought, rationality with the imagination, abstraction with representation.


Janice Kerbel lives and works in London, England, where she obtained a master’s in fine arts from Goldsmith’s College, University of London. Her work is often shown in the United Kingdom and she participates in many international exhibitions. Apart form works on paper, her conceptual practice also comprises performances ( Ball Game , 2008), radio plays ( Nick Silver Can’t Sleep , 2006 – Artangel Interaction, for BBC Radio 3), and publishing projects ( Deadstar: A Ghost Town , 2006 – Locus+, Newcastle). She took part in Biennale de Montréal 2007.