Excerpt from the video Tropicana by Juan Ortiz-Apuy, 2020
This exhibition benefits from the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.
When confronting the environmental crisis, in which unbridled production of goods is threatening the diversity of the natural world, it’s essential that we take an interest in how things are displayed, commercialized and consumed, whether in brick-and-mortar store windows or online.
This fourth youth exhibition, specially designed for kids and teenagers aged 6 to 14, casts a critical eye on modern consumer society and advertising aimed at children, which often features animals, colours, sounds and shapes designed to appeal to them. For the occasion, Montreal-based Costa Rican artist Juan Ortiz-Apuy has created a visual and sound environment allowing visitors to explore the language of advertising and its ability to act on us, in sometimes unexpected ways. The artist based his research on new marketing strategies that have emerged in the social media era, i.e., the phenomenon of “unboxing” and ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos. A genuine foray into the world of objects, this exhibition seeks to examine the way we consume today—always with a touch of humour—the better to understand its future impacts. Besides a guided tour, children can take part in a workshop designed to awaken their senses, creativity and critical thinking. Observation games to be completed with family members round out the experience.
Youth and contemporary art
While children’s literature and theatre have been well established for decades, contemporary art exhibitions aimed at youth audiences remain rare.
VOX’s 2013 foray into this new genre, Jonathan Plante’s One-Eyed-Rabbit, was a huge success. Two years later, Clément de Gaulejac’s Siren Songs followed by Skawennati’s Teiakwanahstahsontéhrha’ We Extend the Rafters were other great experiences. That favourable reception speaks to a real need for children, but also to the importance of getting them used to visiting visual-arts presentation venues. Seeking to better serve the next generation of audiences, VOX is back with a fourth youth-oriented project with Juan Ortiz-Apuy.
VOX’s youth exhibitions are designed by well-known artists wishing to try their hands at creating works aimed at a specific age group. They are produced as collaborations between VOX, the artist and an expert mediator. As stand-alone projects, the exhibitions are also meant to be of interest to a broader audience encompassing all ages.
Art education activity
The exhibition Tropicana provides VOX with an opportunity for experimentation and innovation, as we introduce new forms of art education activities aimed at, among others, school groups, families, and recent immigrants.
Costa Rica–born Juan Ortiz-Apuy has lived and worked in Montreal since 2003. He is an assistant professor in the Department of Studio Arts at Concordia University. Working in his favoured techniques of collage and assemblage, he makes art driven by thinking around consumer goods, often employing humour to explore the advertising and media strategies associated with them…Read more
Watch the interview with Juan-Ortiz Apuy during his exhibition at VOX.See interview
This exhibition will be available for touring as of september 2021.