Galerie de l’UQAM presents the upcoming exhibition Pool of Plenty by Michelle Bui, graduating master’s student in visual and media arts (MFA) at UQAM. In this solo show, the artist engages with a rediscovery of objects, materials, food items and plants that make our environment. Through a process of selection, assembly, and photographic documentation, Bui reveals the aesthetic qualities of these objects, their fragility and malleability. The result is a reflection on where material culture, advertising, desire and identity intersect.
Pool of Plenty is an exhibition that brings together photographic work with which the gallery walls will be plastered. Bui transcends the decorative and ornamental language of advertising in a détournement that makes use of touch and smell to surpass mere visual spectacle. To do so, Bui rearranges objects selected for both their visual and tactile qualities in a presentation of photographic and sculptural elements that seduce the viewer, leading us into a subtle and uncanny sense of displacement. The shift in perception she achieves conveys the artist’s intention to make desire itself material, to bring it into being by and with these objects, to viscerally seduce us and to confront the viewer with surface reality.
Michelle Bui is interested in the tenuous, sometimes fraught, and always symbiotic relationship between culture and commerce. While always apparent in the way we visually experience the world, this relationship most fully inheres in our connection to material culture. The accumulation of items consumed by both society and the individual transmit a tremendous amount of data about our identity. For Bui, our sense of self, our identity-consciousness, is communicated equally by the objects that surround us as by language-based discourses that otherwise might define us. The aesthetic, expressive, and symbolic qualities, as well as the materiality of the objects selected, allow the artist to explore personal themes therein. The various objects that Bui acquires – and sometimes creates – are subjected to presentation and ownership in ways that allow for their construction and arrangement to elicit tensions and overlaps that undermine the status of the object as commodity.