Terrain sensible

Espinoa - Espace culturel

31.01.14 - 02.03.14

Baignes, France


Shared Propulsion Car [2005]
Modified automobile body, pedals, seats and candles
430 x 160 x 120 cm

Saâdane Afif – Olivier Babin – Katinka Bock – Michel de Broin – Cyprien Gaillard – Piero Gilardi – François Méchain – Kirsten Mosher – Tania Mouraud / oeuvres de la collection du FRAC Poitou-Charentes

Artforum critic’s pick

bitforms gallery

24.10.13 - 07.12.13

New York, NY

Michel de Broin’s US solo debut activates cracked lightbulbs, wood logs, bronze castings, and a bicycle with electric currents. The Montreal-based artist calls upon these basic objects to convey fundamental physical forces, all the while adding a trace of whimsy to his works. The result is a constituency of protean ingenuity. A superlative example is Overpower, 2013: A ten-thousand-volt current blazes through a bronze warrior figure that wields a sword over a broken lightbulb. Charged by the voltage, the sword ignites the bulb’s filament, resulting in an electric flash that rushes between the two objects.

The smartly titled sculpture Logged On, 2013, demonstrates the incongruity of de Broin’s practice. A steel girder stands erect on the floor, as a shorter log clings to its side. This strange embrace is maintained by an electrical current fed through a coil inserted into the log, magnetizing it to the steel beam. There is an underlying temporality in this fragile partnership’s reliance on an uninterrupted flow of power: The manmade beam, so much larger than the log, privileges the human product over the human. Elsewhere, a video titled Smoke, 2010, shows a bike being ridden through a cemetery, leaving trails of smoke behind it. De Broin creates this effect by converting the rider’s energy into an electrical current, which activates a smoke machine. As the ghostly fog dissipates it evokes terrestrial impermanence, a note echoed in the headstones through which it drifts. In the gallery, the bike itself rests against a column, affording an inspection of its mechanics. Both of these works require finite energy sources to run transformative systems—if the metaphysical is at play here, the sheer brevity of what is temporal (us) has been brought fully into focus.

— Darren Jones, Artforum

Retooled Appliances

bitforms gallery

24.10.13 - 07.12.13

New York, NY


The exhibition at bitforms gallery features five pieces. Ranging from assemblage to video and photography, these works explore the technological unconscious. All studies of physical potential, these works produce resistance, entropy and challenge the utopian or authoritative conventions associated with technical progress. Crafting new relationships between waste, productivity, risk and consumption.

Tour de force [2013] Consists of five used automotive tires forced inside one another.

Overpower [2013] A bronze statuette of a knight bearing a sword, pulses 10,000 volts and ignites a broken household light bulb. Sparks fly as the characters fight off obsolescence, in a battle between faith and reason.

Logged On [2013] A wood log found lying on the ground, has been repaired with a powerful coil inserted into its core. When the coil draws on the gallery’s electrical current, the resistance produces a magnetic field that enables it to cling to a heavy slab of steel balanced against the wall. Resistance and power are connected both physically and conceptually: if the current is disconnected, the log is cut off and returns to the earth.

Pile [2010] Based on the assumption that there are more street lamps in our urban life than trees, the photograph “Pile” features a lampposts cut into logs, assembled in a wood cord

Keep on Smoking [2006] The bicycle transforms kinetic energy produced by its rider. Powered by a renewable source of energy, the cyclist’s will, a custom generator transforms this physical effort into an electric current, which activates a smoke machine.

Smoke [2010] A video captures the sculpture’s ride through an Estonian cemetery, a trail of vapor is discharged from the exhaust, startling bystanders with its unexpected emissions and the contradiction in propulsion. The project is a marriage of two machines: one that produces, while the other consumes. Their “copulation” generates smoke, which escapes freely into the atmosphere.


download press release

Off to a Flying Start

Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

05.10.13 - 06.10.13

Toronto, ON

Curated by Ami Barak


Tortoise – Tower, Cube, Tunnel [2013]

The ancient Roman ‘tortoise formation’ was a siege technique using overlapping shields, giving protection from arrows and boiling oil, and serving as a platform to raise attackers. Inspired by the plated carapace of the land turtle, this military formation was a defensive architecture powered by humans.

Tortoise is a series of assemblage sculptures using standard picnic tables — an immediately recognizable representation of North American leisure culture — as building blocks to construct elaborate structures.

Supporting one another, showing their undersides and legs in an almost defensive manner against surrounding threats, the picnic tables of the Tortoise series form towering look-out and fort-like structures, defining and guarding their inner space. In this way, this symbol of leisure is turned inside out to create sculptures that resist their essential banality.

Mediaciones: Festival de artes electronicas y video / Transitio_MX 5

Centro Nacional de las Artes

21.09.13 - 29.09.13

Mexico City


Transesterification [2008] HDV video, 2 min 33 sec
Transesterification is a chemical process whereby human fat is transformed into anthropo-diesel fuel.  The chemical reaction is catalyzed by the addition of alcohol (CH4O) and caustic acid (NaOH).  The video depicts a suspicious car in a deserted parking lot performing a senseless dance. The vehicle’s interior is saturated with smoke, as if processes of combustion were occurring inside the car. The driver disappears in the dazzling white light.

La Vie des choses

Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

24.05.2013 - 02.09.2013


Curated by Mark Lanctôt


This exhibition, organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, is the first museum survey of work to be held in Canada.

[2013] 105mm Howitzers replicas are united by a tubular element that creates a physical and symbolic link between the opposite forces. Blowback is a metaphor of a war won by the amorous sabotage of two canno

Pile [2010] The photograph represents a lamppost cut into logs assembled in a wood cord.

[2009] 36 tables are assembled in a defensive stance, legs pointing out. Showing their undersides, the tabletops create an inner space. The defensive schema evokes the Roman military formation called testudo in Latin, meaning “tortoise”.

Bleed [2009] A power drill is punctured by five holes through which it bleeds water, like a fountain. The drill has committed suicide as a functional object to start a new life as an artwork

The Abyss of Liberty
[2013] Inspired by the work of Auguste Bartholdi, the sculpture is toppled to take on a new posture. It maintains its balance against gravity. From above, one can see its inner vacuity.

Installation view showing (l-r) Pickaxe Heads, The Abyss of Liberty and Silent Screaming

Pickaxe Heads [2013] Pickaxe Heads is a sculpture that recalls the mass production of work tools. It was inspired by a visit to a foundry in Eastern Europe. Stacked like bones in catacombs, the pickaxes are piled up like so many lives of labour.

Silent Screaming [2006] This device is designed to silence an alarm system by creating a vacuum, an environment where sound cannot travel. The movement of the hammer striking the bell is visible but the alarm’s “scream” is inaudible.

Lost Object [2002-2013] When someone enters the space, this soft sculpture hides away in its hole to escape the visitor’s gaze. A repurposed refrigerator pump is used as a motor. Behind the wall, we notice the apparatus in which the sculpture takes refuge, waiting for the exhibition space to be vacated of any other presence.

Étant donnés [2013] A mixture of water and fire flows from a sink lying on its side. The co-existence of opposing elements manifests itself in a familiar object rendered uncanny.

[2013] Cyanotype prints on Stonehenge paper, 76 x 102cm. This series of drawings depicts a collection of holes in fences. Each opening is the trace of an informal passageway that stands in opposition to the partitioning of public space. The regular weave of the fences’ grid is distorted by successive cuttings that create both new motifs of openings and possibilities of circulation.



Michel de Broin

Galerie Division

29.07.2013 - 31.08.2013

Montréal, QC

Vacuum Orgy [2013] Cyanotype print on Rising Museum Cardboard, 144 x 223.5 cm
Parallel to his solo exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal, Division Gallery presents a selection of work including Tour de force, Vacuum Orgy, Beam Tea Light, and Fuite. Exhibited for the first time, Tour de force is a new sculpture drawn from used tires. The work is a virtual black hole, condensing superimposed concentric tires into a dense and massive object.



One Thousand Speculations

Luminato Festival

14.06.2013 - 23.05.2013


Produced by Luminato festival


Installation View from from within the work

The spectacular view of the starry sky has always been a source of delight and wonder. It isn’t hard to imagine that wisdom originated in contemplating the firmament, an experience now impossible in Cities because of the considerable obtrusive artificial light that prevents us from seeing the stars in the heavens.

Initially inspired by a photograph which appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 1942, “The Battle of Los Angeles”, showing anti-aircraft searchlights concentrating on Unidentified Flying Objects, the largest mirror ball ever made will be suspended from a construction crane lit by many beams of light. The one thousand mirrors will reflect the light to render and re-create the starry sky for Toronto’s citizens during Luminato festival.

Produced by Luminato festival, Photo David Leyes



Mississauga, Ontario


Aluminium, stainless & color paint
City of Mississauga, Ontario (Duke of York Blvd. and Square One Drive)

Oversized roadside signs along suburban routes advertise motels, restaurants and gas stations; they may reach the height of several stories while advertising little more than a snack bar. Their relationship to these sites is often disproportionate, which subsequently makes their sculptural qualities so appealing. The size of these arrows is not defined by the actual size of the site or object they refer to, it is rather the size of the roads and highways and the speed of passing traffic that dictates their scale. In this way the arrow can be read as the most reduced symbol of a cartographic annotation beyond scale. In the face of readily available high-definition satellite photography and street view maps, the arrow bridges the real and the virtual and creates an enhanced reality. With this sculpture the arrows do not single out anything in particular, but their density creates a place, while simultaneously signaling beyond it.

As the sculpture transforms the traversed space of the roundabout into an illusory map, it also points at the endless possibilities. The arrow is a didactic instrument that communicates, directs, guides and gives sense. It explains and specifies. It validates. The arrow is a tool of persuasion. Like the pointing finger of a questioning child, this sculpture will create curiosity and it will propose to ask a multiplicity of questions in an attempt to reconsider assumed direction and premeditated assumptions.
As dynamic vectors, the arrows obviously correspond to the movement and flow of the roundabout traffic, but they point beyond the potential infinity of the automotive circumscription of the roundabout. In the sculptural density of the composition the purely abstracted signification of the arrow as a road sign is transgressed, the signs become one sign that signifies the density of the campus and its urban context. The roundabout itself creates spatial focus and enclosure; the sculpture recreates the occurrence of crossing directions and defines even more paths and possibilities. The arrows do not point out individual, disconnected paths, but rather the crossroads of each of these trajectories. The recurrently interlocking form stabilizes the sculpture structurally, but it also affirms connected plurality, and mutuality. In enhancing the metaphorical crossroads of the roundabout. (Text from Thilo Folkerts and Michel de Broin)

Dreaming Island – Changwon Sculpture Biennale 2012

26.10.12 - 25.11.12

Changwon, South Korea


Interlace [2012] Bricks and mortar, 700 x 620 x 330 cm
 is a new work created specifically for the Changwon Sculpture Biennale, and installed permanently upon Dot Island.

High Trash

Fleming Museum, The University of Vermont

12.02.13 - 19.05.13

Burlington, Vermont, USA


Deadstar [2008] Batteries, urethane, polystyrene, variable dimensions
High Trash is a group exhibition of artists working with waste materials and trash as their medium.

Mehr Licht

2010 - 2016

Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus, The German Bundestag, Berlin

Suspended in the courtyard of the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus building in Berlin, which contains the Parliamentary Library and Archives for the nearby Reichstag, Mehr Licht is a new addition to the collection of the Bundestag.
While jewels and decadent ornament would customarily adorn a chandelier, Mehr Licht is composed of a collection of distinct streetlights, each speaking to a particular civic aesthetic. The flat horizon has been folded and the streetlights, typically vertical, are variously tilted; a cityscape is collapsed and reassembled to create a satellite, suspended in space.
Projecting outward from a composite core—a polyhydron made of the agglomeration of different streetlight-bases—the long arms of the sculpture extend into a stellation, Mehr Licht is a tug of war between an inward tension, drawing strength toward the centre, and an energetic burst of rays, radiating outward.
The asymmetrical assemblage expand light in all directions, gesturing past of the walls of the courtyard and building, to various points throughout the city; they are refractions of Goethe’s last words, Mehr Licht (more light).


Kunst-am-Bau Wettbewerb für den Deutschen Bundestag, Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus
/ Thilo Folkerts, project architect, Berlin



Oh, Canada


26.05.12 - 01.04.13

North Adams, MA

Curated by Denise Markonish


Oh Canada is a group exhibition featuring works by many contemporary Canadian artists including Marcel Dzama, Shary Boyle, BGL, Dean Baldwin and Kelly Mark. As part of the exhibition, the museum also commissioned this new sculptural work by Michel de Broin.
Tortoise [2012] 12 picnic tables, 346 x 354 x 391 cm

Installation views of Tortoise on site at the MASS MoCA.

Photo by Sarah Wendt.

Tortoise Drawings [2012] Pencil on paper, 48 x 60 cm

The sculpture Tortoise uses standard picnic tables—an immediately recognizable representation of North American leisure culture—as building blocks to transform them into an enclosing structure. The assemblage disrupts the way common things are addressed and revalidates the implicit codes by which they are approached, perceived, and understood. This semiotic reconfiguration of a very open and approachable cultural element into an almost hermetic formation, simultaneously addresses military and police history. The ancient Roman “tortoise formation” is a tactic, commonly used during military campaigns, obviously taking its principles from the animal of its namesake. Inspired by the plated carapace that protects the land turtle from predators, the military formation is a defensive architecture powered by humans. The soldiers compose their individual shields into an overall armor that protects the entire unit from projectiles. More recently, we have seen this strategy used by riot police. Showing their undersides and using their legs in an almost defensive manner against surrounding threats, the picnic tables of Tortoise form a fort, defining and guarding its inner space. Notwithstanding its fortified character, the wooden formation invites physical interaction especially for children who will like to crawl inside and playfully hide from adults. By re-appropriating picnic tables, Michel de Broin has literally turned this American symbol of leisure inside out to create a sculpture that of itself resists its essential banality, while offering a plethora of alternative uses.

Daddy YOU can’t make a cactus…this has been done !


18.01.13 - 17.02.13

Berlin, Germany

Curated by Cato J. Dibelius


At the age of 10, Cato J. Dibelius’ first show will appear at the Grimmuseum in January 2013. Having grown up in San Francisco, Munich and Berlin, Cato has visited over four hundred exhibitions with his father, the artist Robert Barta.

Cato’s favourite works stimulate the senses: they smell, they move, they are loud, they are colourful, some you can even eat. He likes art works that are humorous, works, where the original function of the object makes way for a peculiar re-interpretation.

This exhibition is not a theoretical confrontation with art and artistic production, but rather one in which intuition determines the selection of works and their relationship to one another.

Braking Matter will be part of this group show.

Brooklyn / Montréal : Videozones

Interstate Projects

13.01.13 - 03.02.13

New York, USA

Curated by La Fabrique d’expositions and Boshko Boskovic


Cut into the Dark [2010] Video HD, Blu Ray, colour, sound, 4min 2 sec

Videozones is a compilation of videos by seven Quebec artists and six Brooklyn artists.