M. Gros [Mr. Big]
Evolving and protean work, 2020-
Do you have a special relationship with your sculptures? What if they were the ones performing? How would they do it?
This new installation-performance by Geneviève & Matthieu is inspired by the Canadian investigative technique called Mr. Big which allows an undercover police officer to obtain a confession from a suspect of a serious, unsolved crime. Led by shape-shifting characters, living sculptures, dual weapons and a televisual soundscape, M. Gros tackles identity issues relating to surveillance, infiltration, idea theft and copying; but moves beyond classic investigative games with a narrative that pays special attention to a contemporary art flora.
From theater to gallery, M. Gros takes many forms. A performative version was presented at La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines in October 2021, and it currently appears as an installation at Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain.
The duo Geneviève & Matthieu, from Rouyn-Noranda in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, started working in the late 1990s. Their work combines art, performance, music and everyday life. Playing on interdisciplinarity, from happenings to musical composition, and from performance to installation, this duo creates collective representations and stagings of social tableaux that are at times festive, but always human.
Since 2001, their catalogue of recordings includes five titles. Between the baroque, abstract expressionism and arte povera, their works have been presented over forty times in Québec, across Canada, the United States, France and Belgium. Actively involved in their community, Geneviève & Mathieu have been developing the artist-run centre l'Écart and the Biennale d'art performatif de Rouyn-Noranda for over 20 years. They take a critical look at past and current artistic movements: DIY culture, conceptual art and performance art. Through residencies, public dissemination and the experience of a body that bounces, transforms and blends into art, their works are constantly evolving.
Driven by the human spirit, their creative process proposes a living art that challenges the usual modes of presentation by changing the place, the duration, and the way of exhibiting and performing.
"Geneviève and Matthieu bring me into their studio. They take my coat and hang it up. Monsieur Gros and Monsieur Gros are in the checkroom with a coat hanger, a cotton candy machine and a rope-knife. There is no shortage of evidence, in fact, that's all there is; everywhere, evidence that an artist's life is violent.
Crime often comes from within. Geneviève speaks over Matthieu, then he reproaches her for expressing herself poorly. They lay themselves bare. They love each other, and above all, they say the same thing. Two big babies, one united family. M. Gros is a story of appetite, of thirst, of excess, but it is also the story of a duo of artists who emancipate themselves. The large painting, they knocked it down because it oppressed them so much.
Since I have known them, I feel like taking everything from them. Sometimes, alone at home, I imitate Geneviève's eloquence, I invoke Matthieu's quiet strength. They are so big.
While they are discussing wiretapping, I record them. Geneviève confides to me that she dreams of writing an investigative script, but that she is unable to do so. Immediately, I say to myself: I will write one for them. I infiltrate their workshop, I will be inspired by their characters, I will slip into their skin. Then they say, "We'll find the copycat artist, and if we have to, we'll look for him among the members." They set me up. That's the beginning of Operation Mister Big."
Antoine Charbonneau-Demers, author
This exhibition is presented in partnership with La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines, where the artists performed from October 12 to 15, and with La Fonderie Darling, where they are in creative residency until December 31, 2021.
The artists thank the Canada Council and le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
- Jérôme Delgado dans Le Devoir: L’art performatif dans les yeux de Geneviève et Matthieu
- Yanic Comeau dans Théatralités: Perfo interdisciplinaire: «M. Gros» de Geneviève et Matthieu: J’connais rien à l’art contemporain
- Sophie Jama dans Pieuvre: M. Gros, un sommet dans l’art contemporain déjanté
- The Concordian on Genevieve et Matthieu
- Au Théâtre de La Chapelle dans le cadre du Festival Phenomena: du 12 au 15 octobre