Pars mais prend bien soin de revenir (Leave But Make Sure To Return)
Amélie Brisson-Darveau Forest City Gallery November 01 – December 14, 2013
On Amélie Brisson-Darveau’s Pars mais prend bien soin de revenir (Leave But Make Sure To Return) at Forest City Gallery Written by Kim Neudorf
Having been made a fixture of/in a vest (a vestment), a sleeve, a leg length, a sock-tube.
most cases, an exaggeration (or outright improvement) of our physical realities. Brisson-Darveau’s shadow-figures, in contrast, seem to exaggerate the inwardturning autonomy of shadows which have become independent of bodies. For the most part, hands and feet are missing, as are heads; absent, they have lost their primary positions of authority and gravity, no longer at foremost poles of figurative clarity.
Amélie Brisson-Darveau’s figures were once shadows belonging to bodies out walking, side-stepping, tip-toeing, making exaggerated silhouettes, and stretching to reach and grab and yank, then kick and nudge and squash flat. Brisson-Darveau’s figures were once in on these conversations of life and limb, but are no longer merely an appendix to the body; they’ve gone elsewhere. They are now records, tracings, fossils of shadows. They are clothes left after the Rapture. Homicide chalk outlines. Spotlights freeze these figures as if catching them red-handed, or holding them fixed via the blaze of some kind of Truth.
The thick, dull greys, greens and maroons of patterned tarps, drop-cloths, horse blankets. Once wet laundry now frozen stiff. Colours seem generalized, a means to an end. This also speaks of the frumpiness of the body clad for cold weather, packed into public transit, or loping across a sidewalk against the wind in hunched walk. Crotches are prominently accounted for. Seams are key moments. A leg can be so short as to invert itself into an extra exit/entrance. An odd, shiny corduroy is used for the nubby “legs”, long-underwear style.
A child’s drawing of knights, soldiers, woodsmen. The limbs fold up like paper dolls. Little Lord Faunterloys. Oliver Twists. The limbs of these figures are foreshortened, like the logic of a child’s idea of the human figure tailored into literalized form. An arm becomes a tool, a weapon, or an alternative mode of communication. Torsos are long, heavy, stout, hardy. Our shadows are, in
Roland Barthes asks: “What would be the essence of a pair of trousers (if it has one)? Certainly not that carefully prepared and
rectilinear object found on the racks of department stores; rather the ball of cloth dropped on the floor by the negligent hand… tired, lazy, and indifferent.” Adversely, when trousers are dropped into speech, dry slapstick is automatic. Or, as in the word bosom, cinematic pupils guffaw.
Gestures are less formed out of a material logic than of a repetitive lyric or refrain. A consistent flatness, like a bulldozed cartoon character, persists in taking shape. Looking for what matters in excess, I’m quickly led back to the limits of edges. Like the hallucinations in Lem Stanislaw’s ‘Solaris’, the idea of a person - when made flesh brings to light things we’ve forgotten, or more dramatically, things we’ve exaggerated. Rituals and fates are constantly repeated. Even if rerouted, these stories are inevitable.
In other stories, clothes leap into the air during an incantation. Shoes tap dance. Suits of armor float over hillsides. Lost or stolen coats enact revenge on behalf of their helpless owners. Of Brisson-Darveau’s figures, the Huntsman seems to prevail. His arm under his stumpy leg, holding his other leg up as he stretches his hamstring. Morning warm-ups before battle.
Pressed upon by an invisible presence. In dreams all the actors are us. Caused by an overheated room, a fever, or simply an excess of bedding, one’s body can sometimes signal its distress in various figural and roundabout exploits in dreams. Complaints of vague, invisible intruders are common. Alarming pressure performed by ghosts on one’s back or chest, causing immediate panic and waking. That such fear and horror can happen in dreams is a mundane fact, but that our brains and bodies design these fates is still unsettling. The intimate physicality of these shadows in their relentless, familiar need to shock us back into wakefulness.
The dance of a stubbed toe. The prolonged leap of shadows legging it in the failing light of the afternoon. Brisson-Darveau’s shadows reach, and ask us to reach with them. We become people napping or stretching on floor mats. Our postures slowly, awkwardly spell out the sentence of each shadow-figure. One knee up, pitched forward, one arm in a pre-diving arc. We are asked to think through these figures by deduction. Bodies behaving in reverse.
Through this shape is a path slit through by the form that follows function, but also that line which has often stopped dead as I stop, making another shadow of the future matter of me.
The material equivalent of figural refusal. Characters become visible, identifiable, but are not really present, not really here. Materiality is in service to the performing nature of the uniform. The plausible functionality of buttons, zippers, pockets, cuffs and collars (and in one instance, booties), overrides matter as a matter of fact.
Being asked to interact with another’s shadow, as Brisson-Darveau’s figure-shadows do, is at first odd. As if defensive of how we interact unthinkingly with our own shadows,
doing otherwise is like trivializing something very automatic, very unconscious, and very personal.
the same time, the shadow “provides an image of the body that survives on the other side… [conjuring] that body’s future condition as a spirit or shade” in time.
This may be because of a basic space of security shadows provide: they remind us of our bodies in space and time, and of the fact that there are other perspectives and vantage ports to/of ourselves which point simultaneously to life and to death. Marina Warner speaks of shadows’ “immaterial and insubstantial presence [which] accompanies the being that casts them and gives evidence of that entity’s materiality… Doubled by a form that has no substance, we paradoxically possess a certificate of life.” At
That Brisson-Darveau’s figure-shadows, with all their flippancy and hyperbole, remind of all of this is no small thing. The weird unfamiliarity of costumes. Their weight and unreality. What do they do to us? We fit ourselves into them, fit into and are fitted to. Outfitted, we are out of shape and inside another.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Forest City Gallery gratefully acknowledges the operational support of The Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council, The London Arts Council and The City of London. FCG also wishes to acknowledge the support of its membership, volunteers, Board of Directors and patrons, including Brenda Fuhrman for support of the monthly artist speakers’ series. Thank you to Liza Eurich for designing and compiling the publication, Kim Neudorf for her thoughtful essay and last but certainly not least, to Amélie Brisson-Darveau for accepting our invitation to exhibit and speak at Forest City Gallery. All images were taken of Amélie Brisson-Darveau’s exhibition Pars mais prend bien soin de revenir that was on display at Forest City Gallery from November 1st to December 13th 2013. FCG Current Board of Directors: Benjamin Robinson, Jamie Faye Ryan, Jennifer Lorraine Fraser, Erin Kaszarowski , Neil Klassen, Julia Beltrano, Sophie Quick, Ryan Craven, Liza Eurich, Mark Kasumovic, Rory O’Connor and Jennifer Hamilton. Forest City Gallery Director: Jenna Faye Powell This publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non- Commercial Sharealike License. Images © Amélie Brisson-Darveau Text © Kim Neudorf
LOCATION 258 Richmond Street London, Ontario N6B 2H7 (519) 434-5875 HOURS OF OPERATION Wednesday – Saturday 12pm to 5pm www.forestcity.com
Pars mais prend bien soin de revenir (Leave But Make Sure To Return)
An essay written by local artist and writer Kim Neudorf on Amélie Brisson-Darveau's exhibition "Pars mais prend bien soin de revenir," which...