Create the intimacy without the proximity

Créer l’intimité sans la proximité

Photo: Adil Boukind The Duty
His voice to him, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is used since several decades to think about ways to make society more just, to raise awareness. Compared to global warming, for example. “Go back to the evidence is a thing we need to do, “pronto””, exclaims the artist.

Getting closer, but to what extent ? Getting closer, but how ? Getting closer, but why ?

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer answers to all these questions with Cercanía, exhibition and / or residency, which brings together over a dozen of his works. Because a moment comes when “video conferencing on Zoom and the cocooning have done their time,” he said, gaze heavy with meaning. People want to be outside, meet, share space “.

In the 20,000 square feet that offers him the Arsenal, the multimedia artist, who usually works in his studio in the Plateau, is as happy as a fish in the water. At the end of the course of the exhibition, he set up a workshop where visitors could observe, he and his colleagues work. “Like in an aquarium,” he says with amusement.

In fact, Rafael L.-H. is not alone. Its team includes scientists, programmers, engineers, architects, designers. “This is what I love of Montreal. The nerds are in power ! ” said the native of Mexico city, who has done studies in chemistry. “Myself, I’m a scientist… and an optimist. “

A scientific optimist ? Despite all the misinformation circulating by the time that run ? We guess his smile behind his cover turn. “As when the president shall recommend injecting Lysol ? Or when Madonna starts to panic about vaccines ? Oh, this is brutal… Seriously, what the hell is going on ? It is fâchant — but also understandable. It is the chaos and, in some countries, there is no leadership. “

In spite of everything, he says, it is filled with hope. “Soon, we will be all trying to give us hugs again. “

In the meantime, the one who has been awarded the Governor general’s Award in 2015 offers visitors to cross otherwise. By game of shadows, by the superimposition of images of faces, by the capture of the beating of their hearts that respond.

Interactive, immersive, Cercanía — which means “close” in Spanish — is not, however, free share dark. Rocking, sculpture, symbolic as well as a metronome, for example, recalls the frightening incidence of death by firearms. The brutality of the world. “We are in the shit — in a way very different from and much worse than say the conspiracies are ridiculous to the Bill Gates foundation, and the 5G. It, these are distractions. “

All the voices of the past

“The image of the artist alone in front of his canvas, that to me is very foreign, lance Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. I’m more of a director, which brings together several talented people. “

Exactly, his production coordinator, the art historian Sarah Amarica, shows us how some of the works of the course ” will pay tribute to the philosophers, the poets and literary geniuses “. How other to ” create intimacy without proximity “.

“But with a nearby symbolic, emotional, aesthetic,” adds Rafael.

Take Field atmosphonie, a work that is splendid, consisting of 2300 speakers broadcasting sound archives. Hundreds of birds, listed by the library of ornithology of Cornell. Hundreds of insects, recorded by an entomology laboratory. Those drops of water, laughter of children, the gentle breeze, as fire, bombs. The result generates a wave vivid emotions after these months of confinement.

The installation is inspired by the work of the mathematician of the Nineteenth century Charles Babbage, ” explains the artist. “For he who has invented the computer, the atmosphere was like a vast library that lists all the voices of the past. I love this idea of echoes and ghosts. It was our attempt to visualize the sounds… thousands of sounds present in the ambient air. I think of it in terms of the fountain rather than show. There is neither beginning nor end. The change is constant. “

The change will also be possible thanks to the guest writers who will use some elements of his creations for designing new ones. In particular, the musician Patrick Watson, who will use to turn the speakers to give body to a choral work, handling of the original material, human voices.

His voice to him, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is used since several decades to think about ways to make society more just, to raise awareness. Compared to global warming, for example. “Go back to the evidence is a thing we need to do, pronto. Flatten the curve, we have understood that for the COVID. Now, we need to apply this to the climate crisis. Listen to the scientists, the data does not lie and use this language to protect themselves against the disaster even greater that awaits us. “

There is a pause, apologize. “I’m sorry, I’m talking about the world, rather than my exposure. Forgiveness. “

But no. All the more that the two are related, no ? “It is true. You know, all those horrible people who say “The pandemic has made me a better person” ? I became one of them. I was forced to take a break, to really reflect on the way in which artists can contribute. “

Because, ultimately, it is the art that brings together the human, he believes. “It is like the fire. No matter what happens, people tend to gather. Sometimes they burn, sometimes they burn books. But the home, such as art, will remain forever a place of sharing, exchange and communication. ”

To see the video


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. At the Arsenal, until 27 September

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