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Exhibitions

FICTIONS

Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte teams up with non-profit Canadian Creators Collective to mount a virtual exhibition celebrating Montreal’s design prowess.

Online
22nd – April 30th 2021

By Adrian Madlener / 21st April 2021
Claste Collection, 'Lest We Be Kings' chair; David Umemoto, 'Objet no.5, no.4, and no. 2' COURTESY: Fictions / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

Claste Collection, ‘Lest We Be Kings’ chair; David Umemoto, ‘Objet no.5, no.4, and no. 2’
COURTESY: FICTIONS / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

ONLINE SHOWCASES AND installations are a dime a dozen these days. Although this new format has allowed culture makers to imaginatively circumnavigate the limitations of the pandemic and realise their most eccentric fantasies, it has also run amuck in certain instances. Still, a few have successfully implemented this new modality in dynamic ways that enhance user experience and still stay true to their intended message. FICTIONS falls into this category.

It is a collaboration between Laurence Gélinas, Director of the Canadian Creators Collective (CCC) – a non-profit organisation that seeks to promote Canadian Design – and contemporary design specialist Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, whom she invited to curate a virtual experience, highlighting collectible works by eight emerging and established talents from Montreal.

Atelier Zebulon Perron 'Spineless Chair' COURTESY: Fictions / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

Atelier Zébulon Perron ‘Spineless Chair’
COURTESY: FICTIONS / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

Incorporating strong imagery, video content and 3D technology, FICTIONS addresses the realities of the Covid-19 era in a deeply considered and resourceful fashion. It includes work by Atelier Zébulon Perron, Claste Collection, David Umemoto, Pascale Girardin, Loïc Bard, SSSVLL and Yannick Pouliot.

The exhibition, a homage to Montreal, is a freeform exploration of shape, materiality and function. Works of varying scales and typologies play with architectonic dimension, formal distortion, iconography and cultural reference. While Atelier Zébulon Perron’s ‘Split Chair’ plays with the formal and aesthetic complexity of being separated in the middle, David Umemoto’s distilled objects are studies in architectural volume, massing and relief.

Following a recommendation from exhibitor Samuel Lambert – founder of illustrious lighting brand Lambert & Fils – the collaborators opted to stage this presentation in a nondescript post-apocalyptic environment; an appropriate evocation of the times. “While we were looking for a space to film, we faced many challenges and uncertainties due to the pandemic,” Gélinas reflects. “The curfew, closing of art institutions and social distancing put us in a state of mind similar to a sci-fi movie. Lambert knew of an anonymous space that no one was allowed to enter. We thought that this derelict urban fringe environment would be the perfect spot to do a live virtual event.”

From left to right: Pascale Girardin, 'Totem G and F'; Atelier Zebulon Perron, 'Spineless Chair'; Lambert & Fils 'Paravent' COURTESY: Fictions / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

From left to right: Pascale Girardin, ‘Totem G and F’; Atelier Zébulon Perron, ‘Spineless Chair’; Lambert & Fils ‘Paravent’
COURTESY: FICTIONS / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

As the co-founder of numerous platforms, including Carwan Gallery, Oeuffice, À-trio and Samare, Bellavance-Lecompte is no stranger to breaking the mould when it comes to launching new exhibition and commercial projects. NOMAD CIRCLE, his brainchild, is an unconventional transient fair that sets up in various iconic locations twice a year. This successful event has had a strong influence on the recent trend for design galleries to showcase collectible design outside their traditional white cube flagships.

FICTIONS was initiated a few years back when Lambert and several other members of the CCC approached Bellavance-Lecompte during one of his many Milan Design Week presentations. “I went to Montreal multiple times and explored the idea of curating this show more broadly,” he explains. “I chose to include not only the founding members of the CCC but also other artists and architects I found interesting, in order to create a multidisciplinary focus.” As the pandemic hit, the project evolved. Instead of postponing the exhibition, the collaborators opted to create a virtual experience set in the city.  Gélinas has embraced the opportunity: “Working with virtually immersive exhibitions allows us to show certain details that may go unnoticed during an in-person visit,” she suggests. “It lets us manipulate light and shadows as these conditions might manifest at different times of day within an interior setting. This format also allows us to reach a much broader international audience.”

Loic Bard, ‘Cabinet Bone 01 and 02’
COURTESY: FICTIONS / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

“The exhibition, a homage to Montreal, is a freeform exploration of shape, materiality and function”

 

Pascale Girardin, ‘Totem G and F’
COURTESY: FICTIONS / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

“Works of varying scales and typologies play with architectonic dimension, formal distortion, iconography and cultural reference”

“This is an exhibition that explores Montreal’s new creative wave of making designs, the protagonists of different stories,” Bellavance-Lecompte explains. “It is like an urban scene captured through self-produced objects.” The curator, a native of Montreal himself, saw this project as an opportunity to reconnect with his hometown. “Coming back to rediscover different talents and seeing what was new in the city was a rich experience. All of the creatives I selected have strong and distinct practices. My main mission was to identify the best stories of every designer and to think about how I could bring all of the elements together in a coherent ‘ensemble’ and within the framework of FICTIONS, pinpointing the best this city has to offer.”

David Umemoto, 'Objet no.5, no.4, and no. 2' COURTESY: Fictions / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

David Umemoto, ‘Objet no.5, no.4, and no. 2’
COURTESY: FICTIONS / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

Bellavance-Lecompte presented the designers with an open brief and didn’t impose a specific theme at the outset. It was only when the first proposals came in that he began to piece together the overall idea of a cinematic assemblage. “Good exhibitions come out of working closely with designers and should reflect that exchange,” the curator states.

A central piece of the exhibition is a text Bellavance-Lecompte commissioned Daniel Canty to write. Responding to the curator’s narrative-based vision, the local author and filmmaker interviewed each exhibitor, capturing the essence of their contributions in a connected whole. He was able to frame this content within the context of a cinematic environment, an almost psycho-geographic representation of Montreal itself.

Yannick Pouliot, 'Nouvelles Singularités' COURTESY: Fictions / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

Yannick Pouliot, ‘Nouvelles Singularités’
COURTESY: FICTIONS / PHOTOGRAPH: © Alex Lesage

“The city has a post-industrial and nostalgic vibe, a reminiscence of French grandeur, diversity and political clashes. This is why I believe the artists that come from this unique environment are able to formulate such strong messages, which are evoked in their works,” Bellavance-Lecompte concludes. “Montreal’s creative scene has reached a new maturity in the global context. I think the project expands the language of collectible design and hopefully opens the door to new forms of collaboration.”

FICTIONS an immersive virtual exhibition of eight Montreal designers. Presented by the Canadian Creators Collective and curated by Nicolas Bellevance-Lecompte.

Article By

Adrian Madlener
Adrian Madlener is a Brussels-born, New York-based writer covering a wide range of design-related topics.