If Our Happy Life: Architecture and Well-Being in the Age of Emotional Capitalism at the Canadian Centre for Architecture asks some interesting questions but probes them in a flawed way, a few recent exhibitions in Montréal did so more successfully but purely by accident. Each one commands an affectively manipulated interaction with the past, projecting it into the present and a possible future.
At Diagonale, a wistful incapacity to face reality by sneaking into an over-cured aesthetic comparable to that of the CCA show is at work with Marie-Andrée Godin‘s (Im)possible labor which re-presents women’s art from the 1960s, here primarily given through three of its primary clichés: edifying text, ‘feminine’ abstraction, and the kind of interactive but primarily anti-septic tactility celebrated by Lucy Lippard in a variety of her essays on feminist art from the period. The first of these clichés is represented by a posted reading list of texts from the period, Betty Friedan included, to inform and filter your experience. By the entrance to the gallery, and doubling up on the filter to experience, one finds a set of low-rise seating material reminiscent of a snobby kindergarten classroom. A note on the wall prompts you to take off your shoes and put on the disposable shoes provided “before experiencing the piece” (avant de marcher sur le tapis the French says, giving it a very different connotation). These condoms for your tactile experience of the work are echoed by the generic capsule shapes that dot the various pieces of colossally over-inflated knock-off Bauhaus materials that the show consists of. (more…)