Guillaume Adjutor Provost’s exhibition in the small gallery at the Darling Foundry takes an intentionally ambiguous stance: situated in the interstices between history and fiction, the exhibition offers visitors an experience that is both familiar and open-ended—atmospheric, even slightly toxic, as intimated by the title Vapeurs [Vapours]. The works exhibited act as clues open to interpretation; signs pointing to an enigma that every viewer must formulate by becoming a psychonaut, an explorer of the spirit. On the gallery walls, black marks borrow their altered motifs from projective tests for exploring the psyche in order to give us their murky mirrors. Resin sculptures evoking trilobites—fossils of millennia-old invertebrates—are scattered around the floor, holding vials of alcohol and herbal sedatives in their psychedelically coloured shells. A large ectoplasm floats, projected onto a screen: looking simultaneously archaic and prophetic, it gradually reveals its identity to those willing to pay attention. To redistribute the cards and remagnetize possible meanings, from time to time a live performance takes place on the platform set up in the middle of the gallery.

Vapeurs draws on the free exploration of a latent state in which time and space intersect: sometimes, it is an excavation site, sometimes, a stage set, a memory interface, a house of mirrors, or a screen for fantastical projections. In response to this psycho-spatial stratification, Provost has also diffracted the artistic vision to some extent by inviting collaborators to intervene in a solo exhibition, an approach he has often taken in the past. In this case, he initiated a three-way conversation with Montreal artists Julie Tremble and Guillaume B. B. in order to discuss the exhibition’s universe and the works composing it. Perhaps the method and statement of Vapeurs seek to activate a network or a swarm (of meanings, people, images, forms, relationships)—a metaphor of what today is commonly called a cloud

At one point in the exhibition, you will hear: “I prefer moments when the image fades inside me, and the fog descends.” Silencing the image. Invoking fog. By creating, in the exhibition space, a kind of non-place conducive to spectral apparitions and fragmentary sketches of consciousness, which are sometimes embodied by fictional characters before slipping back into nothingness, Provost and his collaborators strongly assert the possibility of activating a form of clairvoyance in these troubled times.

 

Ji-Yoon Han

Translated by Oana Avasilichioaei

Guillaume Adjutor Provost

Guillaume Adjutor Provost holds a PhD in arts studies and practices from the Université du Québec à Montréal. He has received many awards, including the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowship (2016, the Bourse Jean-Claude Rochefort sur le commissariat et la critique d'art contemporain (2015), as well as Première Ovation grants from the Ville de Québec in 2009 and 2011. He is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau in Montreal.