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Private Life

Solo Exhibition


Fonderie Darling

Montreal QC

Curated by

Milly Alexandra Dery


Document Original

Josianne Issa

Clara Lacasse

“You and I are also fictions and we live in this collective dream.” [1] This is the phrase chosen by philosopher and queer-trans activist Paul B. Preciado to introduce Pornotopia, a book examining how the Playboy empire participated in the proliferation of the multimedia, utopic, and ultra-connected spaces that characterize today’s world. Yet what exactly makes up this collective dream? Montreal artist Frances Adair Mckenzie also poses this question, which underlies her solo exhibition paradoxically titled Private Life. Through remarkable sculptural works, she illustrates her vision of the current cycles of production, consumption, and desire that dominate the fields of contemporary art and digital technology.

For Preciado, it is clear that the regime of desire is in crisis, a condition exacerbated by the repercussions of a global health crisis whose effects we’re still feeling. In a podcast produced by the newspaper Le Monde, he explains the technological omnipresence and the hold of capitalist patriarchal structures that participate in creating a specific taste attracted to speed, overconsumption, and overproduction. Nevertheless, he remains optimistic: How can we invent a new form of desire for humanity? Drawing inspiration from the non-conformist and sensual universe of this atypical philosopher, Adair Mckenzie presents a formal exploration of our desires connected to increasing intersections between private and non-private spaces, through an ambitious and radically morphic staging. 

The layout of the exhibition Private Life in the Main Hall gives the impression of entering an animated scene suspended in time, a decor situated somewhere between the public domain and the domestic sphere. A series of objects evoking the female body and familiar household objects an experiential landscape composed of strange reclining nudes, erotic body pillows, giant pills, and circular screens. Titled Replace with Gases (After Chantal Akerman’s La Chambre 1972), a series of twelve screens in wood and bronze evokes the omnipresence of technology in our lives and succeeds in addressing the subject without resorting to a digital interface. Imitating a panoramic view, these “fake-screens” refer to our ways of seeing and being observed, echoing the experimental films of Michael Snow and Chantal Akerman, two artists who positioned themselves at the centre of a 360º image in the early 1970s [2]. As a symbolic object, the screen is a site in which our personal, professional, intimate, and social experiences are compressed within the same space. Supporting a variety of highly utilitarian gestures—entertainment, shopping, teleworking, or getting in touch—the screen is also inseparable from issues of biosurveillance, digital tracking, consumer excess, overconsumption, and hyperconnectivity.

Full exhibition text here

Milly Alexandra Dery

Translated by Oana Avasilichioaei


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