From October 9 to 30, 2020, the exhibition Des formes poussent by artist Marjolaine Bourdua was held at Galerie atelier b in Old Montreal.
The sculptures that make up Des formes poussent represent emojis that are certainly recognizable, but that evade their initial referent through chromatic or linear displacements, sometimes falling into the artist's imagination through fusions and free traces. To this is added the volume and materiality of these digital icons, giving rise to an embodied presence at a distance from their virtual nature. This corporality is accentuated by emojis that refer to the human body, for example the hand or the tongue, but also by the varied scales and the spatialization of the sculptures, which call upon the body and the movements of the spectator. At the same time, the presence of floral emojis calls for reflection on how our dependence on the digital world contributes to our distancing from nature. For Bourdua, these references to the plant kingdom also evoke nature's ability to be resilient and to generate complex forms, echoing the act of creation and, by extension, the digital constraints that are increasingly imposed on the art world.
The complex articulation of the notions of nature and culture - which the artist reflects on in the light of Donna Haraway's thought - appears within a corpus putting forward a digital semantics, inviting plural levels of readings with a critical and political background. Indeed, the transcultural and generic potential of emoticons is all the more interesting since their selection is the result of corporate decisions made by the Unicode consortium, whose most important committee is dominated by communication technology giants (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.). This is one more indication that in the age of late capitalism, our languages and identities are increasingly subject to the dictates of the market.
About Marjolaine Bourdua
All photos by Jean-Michael Seminaro.