Bringing both a painterly and sculptural approach to her photographic practice, Montreal-based artist Michelle Bui operates within the visual language of still life. Working with an array of everyday, seemingly unremarkable materials, Bui creates delicate, often precarious compositions in her studio, employing her camera at the moment they threaten to perish or collapse. Disrupting the idleness so often associated with still life, the resulting images come to assume a kind of artifice – idealized instants captured in tension with the reality of their inevitable decline.
Building on this strategy, Bui wraps the surface of the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station with a series of new images as part of her exhibition Mutable Materialism. Continuing to work with a lexicon of familiar objects – such as those commonly and over-abundantly found on the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores – Bui obliges often incongruous forms into conversation with one another, such imitation pearls and upholstery foam or fresh cut flowers and wooden blocks. Enlarged to an outsized scale reminiscent of billboards and situated in public space, these compositions both engage and confuse the seductive language of advertising, rendering the familiar strange and the banal surreal. Their absurdity invites reflection on our relationship to the everyday and the consumptive, to broader systems of value, commerce, and desire.
Mutable Materialism continues with Bui’s Envelop #1–8, presented on the Contemporary Art Gallery’s façade.
Presented in partnership with the Contemporary Art Gallery and the Canada Line Public Art Program – InTransit BC
Organized by the Contemporary Art Gallery and Capture Photography Festival and is co-curated by Julia Lamare, Acting Associate Curator, Contemporary Art Gallery and Chelsea Yuill, Assistant Curator, Capture Photography Festival