The work of Quebec City-based artist collective BGL (Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère, Nicolas Laverdière) demonstrates and reminds us of the pleasure that art brings—in the process of making and in the playful and unexpected manipulation of materials. Gathering together key pieces from the past with the group’s last new body of work before they go their separate ways after 25 years, Two Thumbs Up Arts and Crafts is a summation and a statement. In pieces that recycle materials and processes that are often undervalued in the arena of contemporary art, ranging from popsicle sticks to painted twigs, BGL stages the act of creation as a pragmatic yet miraculous everyday experience. Canadassimo, the group’s contribution to the 2017 Venice Biennale, is an installation in the form of a pavilion that mirrors, in a tone both celebratory and gently mocking, a nation’s officially sanctioned cultural output. When presented as a glorious excess of empty cans transformed by colourful paint, “Canadian culture” stands revealed as an absurd concept. At the same time, the work stages creative potential. Outside the pavilion is the Academic Carpet, a theatrical, fictional “production” of the imagined artist occupying and working in the studio represented by the work, who responds both mimetically and ironically to the architectural features of the Confederation Centre. The same logic pervades an installation for improvisational scaffolding, inspired by the brilliant (and scary) construction techniques one finds in locations from Havana to Djakarta, that pretends to lead to the installation of the “painting” (*title – Les Grands Sentiers) that hangs above. As with the pedestals in the form of ridiculously scaled stools, or the bicycle-powered homage to Tom Thomson, these works are acts of love that assert art’s value in what we make of it, and ultimately in what we give to it.
-Pan Wendt, Curator