Séjour bistre

An abode of indiscernible hue

Performative Installation, video

Performance : Sarah Wendt

2011 

 

 

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Stéphane Gilot: The Meaning of Life

 

“I am in a pit, a kind of small arena. I don’t know for how long or why I am here.” So begins Stéphane Gilot’s dreamlike introduction to Séjour bistre, his latest large-scale installation currently

on view at L'Oeil de poisson in Quebec City. The Belgian-born, Montreal-based artist is known for immersive, gallery-filling constructions, as well as drawings, videos and sculptures that bend perspectives on reality with equal doses of sci-fi existentialism and futuristic-architecture fantasy.

For Séjour bistre, Gilot has fused those utopic/dystopic influences with a nod to Samuel Beckett to create what might be described as a sculptural theatre of the absurd. On entering the gallery,

viewers are confronted with the choice of two trajectories—one path leads into the installation, opening at the end of a corridor onto a brightly lit oval-shaped space; the other path takes viewers up a ramp to a broad platform overlooking that ovoid. At the centre of the sculpture, another doorway is revealed; it leads to a small room in which a cot and a pile of potatoes are placed.

Under observation from above, viewers inside the work are left to explore or inhabit this cell within

a cell, their actions scrutinized as part of the art. Given this dynamic, the structure becomes a stage for a series of open-ended narratives where meaning is spontaneous and the divisions between inside and outside, viewer and viewed are blurred. As Gilot puts it, the result is “an abode of indiscernible hue.” (Bryne McLaughlin, Canadian Art, 2011)