VOX — Centre de l’image contemporaine

Klaus Scherübel, Sans titre (Exposition Mousseau-Riopelle chez Muriel Guilbault, 1947), 2019.

Klaus Scherübel
The case of the Mousseau-Riopelle exhibition at Muriel Guilbault’s (1947)

2019.05.15 - 07.13

Klaus Scherübel realizes a curatorial and art intervention at VOX, centre de l’image contemporaine. For more than seventy years, the Automatist exhibitions have been widely studied in monographs and anthologies, to the point that they are today thought of as legendary events. In the same way exhibition catalogues do, those volumes shape our perception of works and orient our appreciation of the context in which they appeared, whether through the substance of their critical commentaries or the quality of their visual documentation. Over time, these photographs have gradually superimposed themselves on our idea of the exhibitions, eventually becoming their consummate visual reference. Seeking to “work back” through time and reactualize the past starting from the present, Klaus Scherübel has used one of these images as a conceptual tool: he has reconstituted, three-dimensionally, the black & white photo taken by Maurice Perron in 1947, in a context that has since become historic. Through that diversional operation, the image, which had originally been reproduced in “book space,” infiltrates the gallery space and, through that spillover effect, acquires the form of an exhibition.

The case of the Mousseau-Riopelle exhibition at Muriel Guilbault’s (1947)

VOX continues its research cycle “Créer à rebours vers l’exposition” with a reactivation of the Mousseau-Riopelle exhibition at Muriel Guilbault’s (1947). Designed in collaboration with Klaus Scherübel, this seventh historical reactivation follows his reconstitution of the second Automatist exhibition. The artist has reconstituted these exhibitions by working from two exhibition views taken by Maurice Perron, which he has transposed to the VOX galleries, reinterpreting scenes in which landmark events in this history of modern Quebec unfolded.

The Mousseau-Riopelle Exhibition was held in the apartment of actress Muriel Guilbault. For the occasion, Jean-Paul Mousseau designed a staging device that was clearly inspired by Surrealist experimentations: he partially draped the walls in burlap and hung the works on a metal grid, accentuating the surreal effect of the space. Perron’s photographs do not depict the exhibited works so much as the mise en scène, which he in all likelihood orchestrated with his colleagues in the Automatist group; he also utilized lighting to emphasize the cast shadows and highlight the expressionist qualities of Mousseau’s staging. Scherübel’s reconstitution, for its part, focuses less attention on the works by Riopelle and Mousseau than on the experience induced by the staging, its documentation and its gallery reactivation 70 years later.

“Créer à rebours vers l’exposition” is a research project on the history and future of exhibitions in Quebec, conducted at VOX since 2016. So far, it has included the reactivation of seven exhibitions that were significant albeit sometimes neglected in art history: the Mousseau-Riopelle exhibition at Muriel Guilbault’s (1947), the second Automatist exhibition (1947), Montreal, plus or minus? (1972), Périphéries (1974), 03 23 03 – First International Encounter on Contemporary Art in Montreal (1977), Aurora Borealis (1985), and Chambres avec vues (1999). While it is true that “Créer à rebours vers l’exposition” has aimed to constitute archives that were often non-existent in the cases studied, the reactivations have differed considerably in their approaches, encompassing an installation, a period room, a voluminous lightbox, and the page layout of a catalogue—thus creating a specific documentary experience each time.

The use of Maurice Perron’s works is possible thanks to the kind permission of Line-Sylvie Perron and the MNBAQ. This exhibition benefits from the financial support of the Federal Chancellery of Austria and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.