Nathalie Bachand, Canada Council for the Arts
Entropic engines and retooled appliances: Michel de Broin and the technological unconscious
Daniel Sherer, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Between the Possible and the Impossible
Nathalie de Blois, Musée national des beaux arts du Québec
Sculpture of Steel, City of Nerves
Bernard Schütze, Espace art actuel
Michel de Broin at Bitform Gallery
Darren Jones, Artforum
Michel de Broin
Bryne McLaughlin, Art in America
Michel de Broin BMO Project Room
Bryne McLaughlin, Canadian Art
Disruption From Within
Rodney LaTourelle, Plug-In ICA
A Logic of Being Against?
Bernard Lamarche, Parachute
Michel de Broin, Etienne Zack, Mass MoCA
Fluid, Data, Blood: New Sculptures by Michel de Broin
Anna Kovler, Arsenal Contemporary
Where is Michel de Broin?
Anne Schreiber, Art Net Magazine
Montreal’s Retired Metro Cars Are Staying Busy
Mark Byrnes, City Lab
Interview with Michel de Broin
Regine, We Make Money Not Art
Castles Made of Sand
Bryne McLaughlin, BMO Project Space
Danger awakens the senses: An interview
Oli Sorenson, MKOS
Bright Matter
Sarah Milroy, Canadian Art Magazine
Michel de Broin
John K Grande, Border Crossing Magazine
Cities of Light
Bryne McLaughlin, Canadian Art Magazine
From Mad Scientist to Pied Piper
Shannon Anderson, Canadian Art Magazine
Michel de Broin at Mercer Union
Alex Snukal, Uncubed Magazine
Neue Heimat
Bernard Schutze, Berlinische Galerie
Art as Conspiracy
Jean-Ernest Joos, ETC Montreal
Propulsion and entropy
Bernard Schutze, C-Magazine
Reverse Entropy
Thomas Wulfen, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien
Objests for Objoys: the attraction of the unforeseen
Stephen Wright, Semaine
Épater la Galerie
Jean-Ernest Joos, Villa Merkel
L’espace public mis à nu par l’artiste même
Jean-Philippe Uzel, Spirale Magazine
André-L. Paré, Etc. Magazine

Michel de Broin BMO Project Room, Bryne McLaughlin

Canadian Art


There is no beginning and no end to Michel de Broin’s Castles Made of Sand (2016). Installed high above the Toronto financial district as the most recent commission for the BMO Project Room, de Broin’s hulking installation pivots on a simple conceptual proposition: how to construct a machine that builds and rebuilds sandcastles. Yet what might seem like child’s play is in fact deceptively complex. Months of consultation with engineers, scouring scrapyards and custom-designing parts, and testing the granular composition of various sand types all had a part in this feat of mechanical improvisation. A spout at one side of de Broin’s machine pours precisely 10 litres of hydrated sand (sourced from Sandbanks Provincial Park east of Toronto) on to a conveyor belt. The pile is carried to a stainless-steel mould and, with a massive 4,000 pounds of pneumatic pressure, shaped in a few seconds into a castle. That castle—a coincidental replica of the Royal Canadian Mint, according to de Broin—continues along the conveyor, stopping at the end of the belt where it dries and cracks until the next turning of the tide (the machine is timed on lunar cycles) when it’s tipped over the edge and the circuit repeats, ad infinitum.
Castles Made of Sand is more than just an infernal machine of sorts; it’s a metaphor rife with contradictions. Consider the reversal of economic hierarchies in embedding an industrial-scale machine at the heights of white-collar capital, or the parallels between the unseen hand of tidal gravity and the mysterious market forces of financial ruin and return. There are odd ironies, too: the complex design and absurd amount of power needed to form a simple sandcastle, and the fact that, despite its imposing presence, the machine sits static during office hours waiting for the next tide (though it can be set in motion on demand by a “privilege key”). From its vantage point atop the skyline at the edge of Lake Ontario, the work looks out over an ever-changing cityscape of brinks and mortar and glass facades—all in essence made of sand. De Broin’s castle becomes a temporary fixture in that view but, like all things subject to an ephemeral existence, it and the city and society that surround it remain perpetually on the brink of collapse and reparation, no matter how seemingly dominant or eternal.

Save as PDF