-this-and-that

Michel de Broin This and That

Works in the exhibition

An emphatic turn towards objects, the non-human, things, and their meaningfulness has swept contemporary philosophical discourse. Despite our phenomenal relation to everything we see and everything we touch (and what touches back, felt or not), a noumenal relation colours our world—or at least the discourse surrounding it. And so, it seems we must learn to thread a newly demarcated, yet unknowable, realm filled with objects personified, openly at play.

For the past two decades Michel de Broin has set up his studio in this shadowy world where objects and their social dramas are chief actors. While our current moment asks us to imagine the inanimate personified, de Broin has been doling out objects that lay bare their machinations over the course of his prolific career. These sculptures do not go so far as to dance on their own, much like Marx described the fetishized commodity doing, but their plastic, metal, painted shells certainly cannot contain their forms. Performing beyond their expected function, albeit poorly at times, these unsuspecting cousins demand a longer consideration than those objects bound to their meaning. In tour de force a tire wrapped into a concentric knot cannot power any motor vehicle, while no less recalling the immense and unknowable force of a black hole. 

This and That’s accretion and accumulation of images and objects belies the vertical thrust of possession. Everywhere we turn a non-systemic torrent of relations is at play, connecting objects in an indeterminate network, one that bridges de Broin’s career from past to present. This uncanny field where objects are in conversation, confronting one another through a shared language of dysfunctionality, is one carved by alternative paths to meaning and value.

Solo exhibitions and projects for Michel de Broin include Reciprocal Energy, at Musée d’art contemporain Val-de-Marne, France; Reverse Entropy at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Disruption from Within at Plug In, Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Canada; Épater la Galerie at Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany. Group exhibitions include; Car Fetish. I drive, therefore I am, Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland; Acclimatation, Centre d’art Villa Arson, Nice, France; Untethered, Eyebeam, New York, NY; and Au courant, Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, among many others. A mid-career survey of his work was mounted by the Musée d’Art Contemporain, Montreal in 2013. His public art works and commissions in the last decade have included, Mehr Licht, a newly commissioned 20-meter project in Berlin for the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus; Possibilities, 2012, Mississauga; Interlace, 2012, Changwong; Majestic, 2011, New Orleans; Revolution, 2010, Rennes; Arc, Montréal, 2009; La maîtresse de la Tour Eiffel, 2009, Paris; Overflow, 2008, Toronto; Encircling, Christchurch, 2006; Shared Propulsion Car, 2005, New York and 2007, Toronto; and Révolutions, 2003, Parc Maisonneuve-Cartier, Montréal. Recipient of the 2007 Sobey Art Award, de Broin has also received grants from the Harpo Foundation, Los Angeles, and Krasner-Pollock Foundation, New York. He was recently awarded a residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York City.

For more information on the artist