Seuils
Nathalie Bachand, Conseil des arts du Canada
Les châteaux de sable
Michel de Broin, Inter, art actuel #130
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
Entrevue
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
Une oeuvre monumentale
Éric Clément, La Presse
Construire des chateaux… Dans le ciel de Toronto
Éric Clément, La Presse
La disspiation sur le virage
Laetitia Chauvin, Esse
Michel de Broin: une oeuvre publique à sauver
Éric Clément, La Presse
Castles Made of Sand
Bryne McLaughlin, BMO project Space
Mécanismes entropiques et appareils remodelés : Michel de Broin et l’inconscient technologique
Daniel Sherer, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Le vivre ensemble
Annie Gérin, Presses de l’Université Laval
Un électron libre aux confins des genres
Jérôme Delgado, Le Devoir
Danger awakens the senses: An interview
Oli Sorenson, MKOS
Un Michel de Broin un brin solennel mais redoutable
Benedicte Ramade, Zéro deux
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 Crossings magazine
Cities of Light
Bryne McLaughlin, Canadian Art Magazine
Michel de Broin: From Mad Scientist to Pied Piper
Shannon Anderson, Canadian Art
Une éternelle semence
Jérôme Delgado, Le Devoir
Michel de Broin at Mercer Union
Alex Snukal, Uncubed Magazine
Énergie réciproque
Bénédicte Ramade, MacVal
Pièces à conviction
Marie-Ève Charron, Le Devoir
Neue Heimat
Bernard Schutze, Berlinische Galerie
Entre le possible et l’impossible
Nathalie de Blois, Musée national des beaux arts du Québec
L‘art comme conspiration
Jean-Ernest Joos, ETC Montréal
Propulsion and entropy
Bernard Schutze, C-Magazine
Reverse Entropy
Thomas Wulfen, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien
Objeux pour Objoies: l’attrait de l’imprévisible
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
Résistance?
André-L. Paré, Etc. Magazine

Michel de Broin, Bryne McLaughlin

Art in America

 


Keep on smoking, 2005

There’s a dizzy logic to the work of Montreal artist Michel de Broin. Take, for instance, his sculpture Révolution, a maquette version of which opened his recent survey exhibition at the MACM. Commissioned in 2010 for the Couvent des Jacobins in Rennes, France, the massive work (which remains in France) features a knotted, 100-foot-long steel staircase designed to confound notions of beginning and end. As viewers mount and descend the looping, five-story-high construction, there is, as de Broin explains it, a progressive sense not only of physical but also of psychological disorientation, a liminal confusion that disrupts the expected linear trajectory of progress. The work’s path ends where it begins: a perpetual return to the realization that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

That illusion of progress—both personal and collective—was just as palpable in the 18½-inch-high model (2010) of Révolution on view at the MACM. Here in its prototype form, the work took on a broader critical measure of failed utopias with obvious formal ties to Tatlin’s unrealized Monument to the Third International. Shown alongside de Broin’s 16mm-film loop One Hundred Paces (2010)—which tracks convent security guards silently pacing the sculpture’s stairs in a kind of absurdist performance, neatly set to the clicking rhythm in the gallery of 100 feet of black-and-white film through the projector—the works established a complex back and forth between form and function, action and reaction, idea and object, all framed in the seemingly mundane routine of walking up and down stairs.

A mainstay on the Canadian contemporary art scene for more than two decades, de Broin’s work has long hovered around these sorts of oppositional concerns in a heady mix of philosophical conundrums, rigorous mechanical curiosity and the unexpected conceptual dynamics of everyday life. The exhibition, which marked a homecoming of sorts for the 43-year-old artist, who spent the better part of the last 10 years living and working in Paris and Berlin, gathered these forces together in a selection of 30 pieces that unfolded not as finite set pieces, but rather as spiraling experiments in residual meaning and understanding.

Some works in the show did carry a wry political edge. For Keep on Smoking (2005), de Broin “reverse-engineered” a 10-speed bicycle into a pedal-powered smoke generator in an ironic turn on “greenwashing” ideology. His Blue Monochrome (2003) transformed a found Dumpster into a fully functioning personal whirlpool hot tub. In The Abyss of Liberty (2013), a bronze-cast model of the Statue of Liberty is upturned, its torch embedded in the gallery floor and its iconic form revealed as a hollow shell. And in Blowback (2013), a pair of 105mm Howitzer field cannons, custom-built by de Broin, have been rendered impotent, or explosively self-destructive, joined at the nozzles by an arching extension.

Reparations, 2004

Indeed, for all of the technical wit and potential irreverence in de Broin’s diverse practice, its common thread remains an overriding impetus to rethink, and challenge, the absurdities and anxieties of the status quo. It’s a strategy of perceptual reversal summed up in a work like Stick to Resist (2013), a group of sculptures modeled after improvised explosive devices with digital counters. The pieces were only powerful magnets fixed to leaning metal supports, immovable until the countdown ended. The minute the exhibition closed, the provocative sculptures, instead of detonating, dropped inert to the gallery floor—but they continued to explode in the mind.

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