Michel de Broin: Chercher l'erreur

March 12 to May 3, 2003



The gallery Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain is pleased to present the solo exhibition entitled Chercher l'erreur by Michel de Broin from March 12 to April 26. The artist and the gallery acknowledge the support of the City of Montreal in awarding Michel de Broin the Pierre-Ayot Prize (2002 edition).

"It's when looking up the archaic sense of the word 'error' [erreur] in an historical dictionary that "look for the error" [chercher l'erreur] takes on its fullest meaning. Indeed, the word derives from the Latin errare, meaning to wander: "the action of wandering about," and figuratively, "uncertainty," "ignorance," and hence "mistake, illusion, or fault." This statement both describes a practice that uses error as a methodology, and sets up a fault left open in its arrangement, such that the inquisitive viewer may play with it in turn.

My works are principally errors - occasions, that is, for wandering and for uncertainty. In the absence of a truth that might otherwise guarantee the merits of a proposition, these "holy" objects are formed in an often paradoxical, if not problematic outside experience.

While wandering one day, I found myself facing uncertainty in a Montreal metro station. Something was amiss in this mundane environment. The now defunct STCUM had just installed monumental billboards intended for publicity. On display for several days, these free panels appeared, in all their nudity, like magnificent modern paintings. I therefore began documenting this fault, before the ads had a chance to conceal the pristine surfaces, and to instate their appealing devices for incorporating our bodies, willing dupes of the promised reproducible happiness.

Entitled Nu (1998), this documentation project represents a free space that opens onto regulated public space. Free space cannot be confused with the notion of freedom that founds liberalism, the concept of which resides in a universe of discourse where one must choose between various determinations, according to assigned norms, institutions and responsibilities. Through this breach, I saw a fault line in normalcy, freed of all intentionality and of all significance, devoid of both culture and nature.

With Nu, I present a body of work that includes: Ironie (2002), a hydraulic reversible device that responds to finger pressure and where a latex membrane is turned inside-out like a glove, blown up, and sucked toward the inside; Modern Phallacious (2002), a set of fetish objects of modern art standing atop a vanity unit (the latex membrane of the ironic device is moulded on one of these); and Tenir sans servir c'est résister (1998-2003), an electromagnet whose sole function is to hold on to a metallic surface - it will hang, trembling and radiating heat, at the end of its wire, should the power be cut. - Michel de Broin

In awarding Michel de Broin the Pierre-Ayot Prize, the jury is highlighting the originality, ingenuity and intelligence of his work. Widely recognized, its creative potential is evinced in de Broin's dynamic presence on the art scenes of Montreal, Quebec, and cities overseas. The versatility of his approach also testifies to the lucidity with which he looks on the world that surrounds us." - Serge Tousignant, President of the 2002 Pierre-Ayot Jury.

Described as an unclassifiable artist, de Broin philosophically plays at transgressing rules, artistic norms, and the social order. This contemporary art "stage director" creates peculiar visual art events. Worth mentioning is his performance - Matière dangereuse, recorded in video and photographs for Skol gallery - of a fictional arrest for driving around with an immense cube on the car roof. The artist was examining the road sign symbol - black square on white background - proscribing the transportation of dangerous materials. For the exhibition Artefact 2001 Urban Sculptures, de Broin produced Entrelacement, a temporary work that consisted of an unusable, twisted bicycle path. Recently, for the group show La Demeure (Optica, 2002), he presented a wandering trailer that he parked on downtown streets. Entitled Trou ["hole"], this unusual work featured an orifice that allowed onlookers to slip into the trailer and to curl up inside. At times ironic, at other times humorous, de Broin's creations have been shown, among other places, at Galerie Yves Leroux (1993-95), Circa (1997), Skol, the Musée du Québec (where he won the Québec Capital prize), and at Villa Merkel, in Germany.


Michel de Broin, Ironie, 2002, Hydraulic system, latex form, table Michel de Broin, Modern Phallasius, Vanity, plastic mold, Plexiglass box / 200 cm x 50 cm x 125 cm Michel de Broin, Tenir sans servir c'est résister, 2002, Electromagnets, cables, metallic surfaces, variable dimensions



Fast Forward - A cross-Canada guide to the season's best exhibitions and events in the visual arts. Canadian Art, Spring 2003.

Lamarche, Bernard. Se nourrir de parasites…. Le Devoir, 22-23 mars 2003, p. E9

Delgado, Jérôme. Parcours d'erreurs. La Presse, 1 avril 2003, p.C6

Crevier, Lyne. Savoir gaffer. ICI, édition 20-26 mars 2003, p. 30

Tremblay, Martin-Pierre. L'empêcheur de (dé)tourner en rond. Michel de Broin, l'espoir majeur de l'art contemporain. Le Soleil (Québec). 29 mars 2003

"Aimants collés ": Article de Nicolas Mavrikakis 
dans Voir - 24 - 30 avril 2003 p. 45

Article de Henry Lehmann dans The Montreal Gazette 5 May 2003 p. B6 (dernière partie de la section)


-Michel de Broin's website