Encounters, 2021, installation presented at the Musée d’art de Joliette

For more details on each piece, click on the image.

At the core of Chloé Desjardins’ work lies a marked interest in art history and artistic skills. As a sculptor, she is also sensitive to ideas that can spontaneously emerge when directly handling materials. By playing with reversals, mirroring, and contrasts, Desjardins brings out the symbolic value of materials such as porcelain, bronze, plaster, polystyrene foam, or bubble wrap. For viewers, contemplating Desjardins’ work leads to questioning the conventions of the art world.

Constraints are often the driving force behind Desjardins’ practice. When the Musée d’art de Joliette (MAJ) invited her to create work based on the collection, she turned to the Musée’s staff members and their inherent curiosity to provide the spark for her artistic process; delegating, so to speak, the task of making the initial gesture for her new body of work. The MAJ’s curators, registrar, head of visitor services, administrative assistant, technician, and head of communications selected and described several objects from the collection, which Desjardins responded to by creating twelve works that were conceived as a series of conversations. By doing so, she insists on making collaboration a central element of her creative process. This body of work is an exercise in the playful transposition and translation that stemmed from her interpretation of each description, her exploration of the materiality and forms of the chosen objects, and her research on the artists behind these works. It was also informed by her interest in revealing little-known aspects of the collection, namely the storage of art works in the museum’s vaults, thus drawing attention to the constant care they require. This explains, for instance, her use of materials such as non-woven polyethylene (Tyvek) used in preventive conservation, or of shapes that resemble shipping crates and supports with carved out interior voids.

Although randomly selected, the wide range of objects retrieved from the vaults present an interesting historical portrait of the MAJ collection. First established for educational purposes by the Clerics of Saint-Viateur at the end of the 19th century, the collection, which brings together natural history specimens, archeological objects, religious heritage pieces, historical and contemporary art works, has progressively focused on the visual arts, under the guidance of Father Wilfrid Corbeil, c.s.v., founder of the Musée d’art du Séminaire, which later became the Musée d’art de Joliette in 1967. This exhibition lets us revisit this history at a time when the MAJ is standardizing its collections in preparation for its future development. It foregrounds the complex nature of maintaining a collection that requires constant efforts, not only in terms of its physical conservation, but also to ensure its relevance as research material.

Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre, Curator of Contemporary Art

Translation: Jo-Anne Balcaen and Käthe Roth

On June 15, 2020, at 1:27 p.m., Chloé Desjardins sent these guidelines to Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre, Curator of Contemporary Art, for the Musée d’art de Joliette team.

Guidelines for the description of an object selected from the collection.

Please choose an object from the Museum’s collection that is currently in storage. It can be any item: object, sculpture, painting, or drawing. You are completely free to decide on the criteria for your choice.

I would then like you to describe this object in approximately 500 words. The text should begin with “The object I chose…..” As much detail as possible should be included, but keep in mind that it is a description that reflects your personal point of view. You can give a contextual description: title, artist, year, provenance, year and context of acquisition, and so on (if this information is available). You can also describe the general appearance of the object: what does it look like? What is its shape? What is its medium or use? Finally, you can describe its physical characteristics: size, materials, colour, texture, weight (heavy or light), and so on.

You can conclude by telling me why you chose this object: attached to a memory, attraction/repulsion, represents something, or any other reason.

Don’t forget to give your name and your connection with the Museum. Thank you!

Le Musée s’expose/Le Devoir/Nicolas Mavrikakis (Fr)

Phot credits: Maxime Brouillet and Paul Litherland