Thresholds
Nathalie Bachand, Canada Council for the Arts
Fluid, Data, Blood: New Sculptures by Michel de Broin
Anna Kovler, Arsenal Contemporary
Sculpture of Steel, City of Nerves
Bernard Schütze, Espace art actuel
Michel de Broin
Bryne McLaughlin, Art in America
Disruption From Within
Rodney LaTourelle, Plug-In ICA
Interview
Michel de Broin, Etienne Zack, Mass MoCA
Montreal’s Retired Metro Cars Are Staying Busy
Mark Byrnes, City Lab
Michel de Broin BMO Project Room
Bryne McLaughlin, Canadian Art
Where is Michel de Broin?
Anne Schreiber, Art Net Magazine
Michel de Broin at Bitform Gallery
Darren Jones, Artforum
Castles Made of Sand
Bryne McLaughlin, BMO Project Space
Entropic engines and retooled appliances: Michel de Broin and the technological unconscious
Daniel Sherer, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Danger awakens the senses: An interview
Oli Sorenson, MKOS
Interview with Michel de Broin
Regine, We Make Money Not Art
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
Between the Possible and the Impossible
Nathalie de Blois, Musée national des beaux arts du Québec
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
A Logic of Being Against?
Bernard Lamarche, Parachute
Épater la Galerie
Jean-Ernest Joos, Villa Merkel
L’espace public mis à nu par l’artiste même
Jean-Philippe Uzel, Spirale Magazine
Résistance?
André-L. Paré, Etc. Magazine

Michel de Broin: From Mad Scientist to Pied Piper, Shannon Anderson

Canadian Art

 

At first impression, Michel de Broin’s exhibition at Plug In ICA appears oddly unbalanced. The main gallery is relatively bare, save for a few small pieces scattered about. But turn to the right, and one of de Broin’s large shelter sculptures, made of 10 found tables stacked together to enclose an inaccessible hiding space, is crowded into the small side gallery.
But all is not as it seems. A triptych of paintings hung discreetly along one wall depicts the empty gallery from three perspectives, but with a significant architectural overhaul. The columns that line the centre of the gallery have been sliced down and balanced on top of one another in a modernist sculpture reminiscent of Carl Andre or Richard Serra.
Ironically, the sculpture can only exist in the imagination—if one were to actually slice the supporting columns, the gallery would collapse. The artist leaves the gallery sparse enough for visitors step into his vision of impossibility. Rather like the remnants of a performance piece, de Broin provides only the “documentation” and an empty gallery, leaving the visitor to reconstruct the scene in their minds. It’s a clever and bold use (or un-use, depending on how you look at it) of the space. Most of de Broin’s pieces in this exhibition, titled “Disruption from within,” are performative in nature. At the gallery’s far end, a drill lies on a plinth in a puddle of water. Setting up a fallacy both logical and pathetic, the drill is riddled with holes from which water spurts. It’s as though the drill’s aorta has been severed, leaving a puddle that seems on the verge of spilling out towards an electrical plug. Titled Bleed to Death, the drill is both dead and deadly.
On a television mounted near the entrance, an actor hired by de Broin putters through Winnipeg’s downtown core on a bicycle outfitted with a smoke-making device. In another ironic turn, the bike uselessly sputters smoke generated by the bicyclist’s efforts. He elicits curious stares and, at one point, a group of kids follow him like he’s the Pied Piper, innocently asking if the bike can go any faster. The same bike shown in the video sits in the centre of the gallery, offering visitors a closer inspection of de Broin’s absurd construction. An exhaust pipe vents out the back and the machine is operated by a series of switches and knobs mounted in a box between the handlebars. All operations, from the voltmeter to the test smoke switch, are indicated by labels made with one of those cheap plastic label-making machines. The device’s homespun design recalls the time machine that Uncle Rico, full of naive optimism, orders online in Napoleon Dynamite. In fact, de Broin’s work carries echoes of the same black, awkward comedy that runs through the film. “Disruption from within” might be imagined as a series of botched experiments—but importantly, ones that de Broin understood as doomed to failure, and embraced for that very reason.

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