Thursday, 24 April 2014

Behind the Scenes of Proliferations Writing Andrée Anne Dupuis Bourret's exhibition essay

It started with my signing a contract agreeing to write an essay for Eastern Edge's main space gallery exhibit by Quebec artist Andrée-Anne Dupuis Bourret on March 24th.  My deadline for the text was April 4, 2014.  It appeared that I was being parachuted in to fill a gap by another writer that had gone a-wall for undisclosed reasons.  I said I was happy to help the gallery out.

To be honest, I was not familiar with artist's work so I was literally starting from scratch.  This was my first piece of information, it was the artists' show proposal:
The exhibition Proliferation explore new modes of spatial occupation for printed surface by questioning the way in which tools, interfaces and devices changes our individual perceptions of the world.

Andrée-Anne Dupuis Bourret have been approaching the creation through a reflection on perception and use of space. Her projects take on various forms : site-specific installations, paper works, artist publications. She has presented her work in several exhibitions in Canada and abroad (United-States, Israel, Australia). After receiving the Gold Medal of the Governor General of Canada for her master thesis project in 2011, she is currently working on a PhD on print art installation at University of Quebec in Montreal. She also teaches printmaking and writes two research blogs : Le cahier virtuel and Le territoire des sens.
When I started the essay I was possessed by pattern and its modularity.  Stripes went effortlessly from the animal kingdom to the world of digital information.  It seemed to be everywhere I looked.

This raised more questions than answers for me.  So, I went to check out her blogs.  Now I was cooking.  It was important for me at this stage to study her images, get a sense of intentions and her characteristic way of working.

The challenge in writing an exhibition essay is that the writer is basically working with something that doesn't exist yet.  The essay is growing along side the art work but often sight unseen.

My next step was to send Andrée-Anne a series of questions based on my observations of her blog.  I had decided to read her secondary material, in other words what other writers had written about, only after I had formed my own interpretation of her work.

Andrée-Anne was very throughtful and prompt with her answers.  Here is the list of topics we discussed: a description of the kind of module she was using as the key component she was creating for the show; it would be different from prior shows, the significance of its shape, her sources of inspiration and most importantly for my interpretation– hybridity.  What most intrigued me about this artist's work was that she was basically a print maker who made thousands upon thousands of prints that she folded by hand into 3-dimensional sculptural environments.  It took huge effort, amazing discipline and displayed real sensitivity.  The environment for the viewer was immersive and yet it was only paper.  I titled the essay Proliferations Modular Meaning, The Art of Andrée-Anne Dupuis Bourret.   And much to my surprise, at the opening, several people commented on how it helped them appreciate the art–even the sommelier, who graciously picked wines for the opening.


  1. Didn't know about exhibition essay until I came across your post. I can't imagine how challenging it is- describing art vividly in person is already immensely delicate, what more to describe it in writing. - Layce of Research paper help

  2. Thanks for the comment! One of the responses to the essay from the artist made me happy, "it makes people want to see the show!".

  3. This is really a great post very creative one ,Thanks a lot for sharing this great insight here with us good job keep it up.
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  4. Thank you for the positive comment. I don't think I could stop writing if I wanted to! I've been published for 40 years now.