Deconstructing our relationship to the object

artsnb Featured Artists Series – Written by Sylvie Pilotte

Studio view. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Spring 2019! I can still see myself there, devoting myself fully to my creative project entitled Jamais rassasiés! (never satisfied!), set up in a rented studio in Dalhousie, thanks to an artsnb grant from the Creation program. I remember the state of feverishness in which I found myself when faced with all of the possibilities that this project represented for my artistic approach.

In 2019, I was an emerging artist in visual arts. I was working with a mixed technique in which collage held a privileged place, in accordance with an ideology of downsizing on a material level. It was therefore imperative to use this borrowing and construction technique for this new project.

Artworks in process. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Jamais rassasiés! was a project that took me out of my comfort zone and freed me from the frame, from the limited space that conventional painting constrained me to. It was a project through which I explored the third dimension with sculptures in hybrid form. The challenge of creating sculptural works composed of several heterogeneous elements, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, involved more than one aspect of the creative process. All facets, not only of the sculpture as a whole, but also of each element that made it up, had to be taken into account in order to hold the viewer’s attention at every turn. The assembly had to result in a coherent work despite its complexity, contributing to the purpose behind the project. After trial and error, various strategies were developed, depending on the type of material, to link the elements to a central structure that first had to be found prior to starting the sculpture. From these experiences, I retained the most effective techniques and they have been used since then in the creation of new works.

Artworks in process. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

The main theme I wanted to talk about was overconsumption. The artists of Arte Povera or New Realism, two artistic movements that influence my practice, explored this theme in the 1960s and 1970s, and this tendency to spend is still well anchored in our culture. Considering its devastating impact on the ecosystem, to address the subject today is to continue to face it. The most vulnerable populations pay the the highest price to this phenomenon. That’s why I’m interested in the human dimension in this series. I inevitably create in reaction to oppressive realities. Ultimately, I’m an artist in constant search of greater freedom.

Recycling has always been my main source of obtaining materials, starting with magazine clippings. Some materials are collected over a long period of time and may involve the participation of those around me. The project Jamais rassasiés! is part of this approach: with its packaging, waste and industrial surpluses generated by everyday consumption. When starting a new artwork is a bit difficult, I usually make an arbitrary selection of these fragmented materials that break with their original context to trigger my creative process, which is based on improvisation. These fragments are then sorted for their suggestive potential. By integrating objects into my work that have lost their function or have become obsolete, transforming them into media that I use in my artwork, I extract information about our way of life and that allows me to deepen my reflection.

Artworks in process. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

In 2022, three years after this project came to fruition, several of my sculptures were exhibited for the first time, some in their original version and others in improved versions. The creative project Jamais rassasiés! has thus evolved into an exhibition project that I have entitled Cornu copiæ. Not only is Cornu copiæ eagerly awaited by other galleries, but it has also been the subject of an article on the website of the magazine Vie des arts. These are some of the benefits my creative project has had on my practice, and they go beyond the range of possibilities I had in mind for 2019.

My visual arts practice took shape while I was studying graphic design and is rooted in Northern New Brunswick after settling there in 2011. Calling for a reflection on social values and collective behaviours, my projects embrace both two-dimensional and sculptural forms, installation and, more recently, multimedia. They are regularly exhibited and have been supported on various occasions by organizations in support of the arts. Several of my works are part of public and private collections, and a monograph entitled Sylvie Pilotte, ou le reigne contesté de l’image was published in 2020.

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