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image
© Michael Blum, Palazzo Chupi, 2008-15. Installation médium mixte | Mixed-media installation. Avec l’aimable permission de l’artiste | Courtesy of the artist. Photo : Michael Blum

Michael Blum
From January 24th 2015 to March 21st 2015
Palazzo Chupi

Opening :: Saturday January 24 (3 PM)

Michael Blum proposes a critical and subversive (re)reading of major historical narratives. "His projects attempt [...] to confront the individual dimension with macro-economic and socio-political systems"1, most often using of overlooked characters or news items whose narrative he reappropriates by introducing new connections. Two exhibitions held in Montreal in 2014 and based on recent investigations dealt, respectively, with the activities of Jacques Mesrine in Quebec (Guerre et paix, VOX) and with the question of the manifold Québécois and Canadian identities (Notre histoire || Our History, Galerie de l’UQAM).

Palazzo Chupi, the installation presented at OPTICA, takes its title from a Julian Schnabel real estate project: in 2007, the American painter and filmmaker added seven stories in Venetian architectural style to a former stable that he occupied in Manhattan’s West Village. The artistic and commercial ambitions of this eccentric and controversial gesture were ultimately curtailed by the building’s gaudy aesthetic and the 2008 financial meltdown. Blum created Palazzo Chupi the same year, while living in New York. It is being shown here for the first time. Beyond its interrogations of urban gentrification, the preservation of architectural heritage, or the dynamics of rampant speculation in the financial sector and art market, the exhibition invites spectators to "pass through the image", figuratively and literally speaking, while demonstrating that history, like all narratives, is a construction.

Palazzo Chupi articulates several elements, including a video presentation of 21 drawings attributed to Sherwood Darnell, a man who once occupied a prison cell that faced the site on which this palazzo now presides. His drawings depict the location’s evolution, from the beginning of time to some point in the distant future. Not only does this new body of work testify to the evolution of the West Village—replacing a linear conception of time with its cyclical representation—it also reveals a singular, and heretofore unknown artistic itinerary. Darnell thus serves as a foil to the famed Schnabel (conspicuously absent here). The parallel history on which the exhibition sheds light appears ultimately to crystallize in an exhibition space divided into two distinct areas, the one public, the other hidden, a spatial dichotomy that prompts us to explore the hidden side of things.

1. Corinne Charpentier, « Nowhere Better Than This Place », La dernière brève. [Online] Frankfurt: Revolver Verlag, 2005, p. 13. http://blumology.net/ccharpentierF.pdf. Accessed on December 20th 2014.

Author: Geneviève Bédard

Emerging curator and author Geneviève Bédard is Coordinator of Exhibitions and Cultural Mediation at VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine.

Translator: Ron Ross

Press Release (pdf)

The exhibition Palazzo Chupi is the object of the article "De la décoration comme art" written by Nicolas Mavrikakis (Le Devoir, February 21, 2015). Éric Clément also wrote about the exhibition in his article"Édification partielle" (La Presse +, February 25, 2015).



Michael Blum is an artist using a variety of media, ranging from photography and video to books, installations, and printed matter. His work has been shown at numerous venues including the Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris), the New Museum (New York), transmediale (Berlin), Kunsthalle Vienna, Museum der Moderne (Salzburg), De Appel (Amsterdam), the San Francisco Art Institute, the Baltic, Istanbul, Torino and Tirana Biennials. He is a professor at École des arts visuels et médiatiques, UQAM, since 2010.
www.blumology.net