Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau

What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest?

January 16—February 23, 2019
Opening Reception: Wednesday, January 16th, 6:00–9:00pm
Curated by Daniella Sanader

Presented as a choreographic mini-opera, Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau’s What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? stages a conversation about illness, pain, and what it means to become inanimate. Situated in environments of bright tones and ambiguous shapes, Lum and Desranleau’s performers engage with objects that serve as imperfect extensions of their bodies: things that both support them and weigh them down. Acting as a narrative of chronic illness, What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? is also a romance between body and object, a score for chorus and mezzo-soprano, an autofiction, a fantasy.

The sprawling two-channel video installation presented by this Montreal-based collaborative duo introduces a mournful, operatic golem. For Lum and Desranleau, the figure of Jewish folklore—an animated body molded from inanimate matter—stands as a counterpoint to the technologically-mediated figure of the cyborg. In the artists’ narrative, the golem is an ill body with limbs of unfired clay; stiff, inefficient, both human and thing. Joined by a chorus of sometimes-masked dancing figures, Lum and Desranleau’s golem considers the material, sensorial, and living conditions of its own in/animate state.

What Do Stones Smell Like in the Forest? is the second chapter in a series of works by Lum and Desranleau about the relationships between sentient bodies and objects. At Gallery TPW, their video opera is accompanied by a photographic and sculptural installation and a series of performative and discursive activations.

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Chloë Lum and Yannick Desranleau are multidisciplinary visual artists based in Montreal, Canada. Their work focuses on theatricality and the choreographic; in their performance work but also in their interest in staging tableaus and working with ephemeral materials that can be said to perform through re-deployment and decay. The duo’s recent works investigate the agency of objects, the material condition of the body, and the transformative potential that bodies and objects exert upon each other. These interests are informed by Chloë’s experience with chronic illness and its effect on their collaboration as well the duo’s exploration of narrative tropes from literature, theatre and television.

They have exhibited widely, notably at Or Gallery, Vancouver; the Center for Books and Paper Arts, Columbia College, Chicago; the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; the Kunsthalle Wien; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art; Whitechapel Project Space, London; the University of Texas, Austin; the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown; the Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto; and the Darling Foundry, Montreal. Lum and Desranleau are also known on the international music scene as co-founders of the avant-rock group AIDS Wolf, for whom they also produced award-winning concert posters under the name Séripop. Their work is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

In 2016, Desranleau was awarded the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowship in Contemporary Art, and in 2015, the duo was long-listed for the Sobey Art Award.