FOFA Gallery - The Material Turn

by Emma Renaud

Located on Sainte-Catherine Street, Concordia’s Sir George Williams Campus offers four fine arts galleries - one of them being the FOFA Gallery. The FOFA Gallery is an exhibition and research space displaying activities and projects from Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

Between Black Mirror and ExMachina, we live in a society where technology is constantly being called into question. A global philosophical impetus that addresses the increasing digitalization of culture and society has also been putting greater emphasis on the physicality of matter. While images of data control and surveillance technology can seem rather frightening at first, this exhibition attempts to reconcile the audience by materializing the invisible and sometimes uncontrollable technology. The Material Turn captures the audience’s attention, posing questions such as what happens when something as intimate and accessible as textile references something as seemingly intangible and impersonal as big data. Not only is technology being materialized by the featured artists, it is also explored in innovative ways - such as in the work of Louise Lemieux Bérubé or Robin Kang, both of whom are exhibited at the FOFA Gallery.

Louise Lemieux Bérubé is the cofounder of the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, and an artist specializing in Jacquard design. As for her creative process, she combines computer tools, textile research and weaving structures - all as new elements of design when put together cohesively. She is interested in the idea of mixing ‘old’ materials with the new artistic potentials of technology. In Vinci revisité #3, Mona Lisa, Lemieux Bérubé focuses on da Vinci’s artworks of hands and stages Mona Lisa as a background - the Mona Lisa becomes more distinguishable as you get further from the piece.

Another exhibited artist is Robin Kang, originally from a small town in Texas and now based in Queens, NY. She uses a digitally operated Jacquard hand loom in order to create her artworks and so combines - just like Lemieux Bérubé - a modern version of a classic weaving machine with materials such as cotton and metallic yarn. The history of such practices recalls the close connection between technology and the textile industry, which she draws on as inspiration to reconcile the old with the new.

The exhibition introduces the audience to different forms/mediums of technology, showing artworks that associate materials such as wool (the old) with electronic components (the new) and approaching the use of technology in new, creative ways.

The Material Turn is on view until April 13, 2018. 

Room FOFA Gallery, EV 1-715, Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (1515 St. Catherine W.), Sir George Williams Campus. Free admission.

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