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BGL Canadassimo at the Canada Pavilion for the 56th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia
BGL, Canadassimo, 2015. Work in progress for the Canada Pavilion for the 56th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, 2014. Photo © Ivan Binet. Courtesy of BGL, Parisian Laundry, Montreal, and Diaz Contemporary, Toronto.

VENICE.- The National Gallery of Canada today announced the opening of Canadassimo, an exhibition of new work by the artist collective BGL presented at the Canada Pavilion of the 56. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte − la Biennale di Venezia. Canadassimo is supported by Royal Bank of Canada, its Presenting Sponsor, Aimia, its Major Sponsor, and the National Gallery of Canada Foundation.

For their presentation in the Giardini di Castello – on view from 9 May to 22 November 2015 – the BGL art collective, composed of Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière, is inviting visitors to embark on a surprising journey.

As so often with BGL’s work, Canadassimo blurs the traditional boundaries of the art experience. Partially obscured by scaffolding, which gives the impression the exhibition is still under construction, the Canada Pavilion has become the site of a vast immersive installation. Completely transforming the space, BGL has taken advantage of the building’s architecture to create an intriguing path through a world of products, objects and materials, where art rubs shoulders with merchandise and economics. Visitors access the pavilion through a small neighbourhood convenience store, with tinned goods and other household essentials. This strange, chaotic area is followed by a living space under renovation, which itself leads to a studio crammed with all kinds of objects, including hundreds of cans covered in drips of coloured paint.

A staircase leads from this section to the scaffolding structure, which is covered by a terrace that extends from the pavilion and overlooks the Giardini. Once there, visitors are invited to drop coins into a maze of gutters that spill into the building’s large glassed walls. This action reinforces the theme of consumerism in Canadassimo while also calling attention to the complex links between interior and exterior, between the structure of the pavilion and the architectonic elements of the installation.

BGL: “In its excessiveness, Canadassimo creates a kind of materialist frenzy. When we visited the pavilion for the first time, we found its architecture odd and on a human scale that doesn’t quite match its role as an exhibition space. We were also struck by its position in the Giardini. We came up with the idea of integrating it into a labyrinthine installation and playing with the exterior surroundings by building an extension and making people enter through a small store in the heart of the Giardini – so they have to pass through a service area to getting to the art.

Marie Fraser, curator of the exhibition: “BGL’s works often embody a direct relationship to material and the need, even the urgency to reclaim material conditions. Composed almost entirely of recycled materials, Canadassimo conveys a sense of the excess to which contemporary society is prone, but also conjures the eccentric charactere of a bricoleur/artist who collects anything and everything. The many references to Canadian culture and to North American lifestyles, coupled with the extension that greatly increases the pavilion’s surface area – but, with its unfinished look, sows doubt in visitors’ minds – also prompt reflection on the issue of national representation.

Marc Mayer, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada: “As the commissioner of the Canada Pavilion at the 56. Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte – la Biennale di Venezia, the National Gallery of Canada is proud to present the work of BGL, an artist collective that has come into its own as an aesthetic force to be reckoned with. I’m convinced that the international audiences will be as enthusiastic about this work as Canadians have become.”

George Lewis, Group Head, RBC Wealth Management & Insurance: "At RBC, we strongly believe in the power of the arts to enrich our lives and enhance our communities. We support artists from a variety of genres to ensure they have a platform – both local and international - on which to highlight their talents. It is an honour for RBC to be a presenting sponsor of the Canada Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale and we look forward to strengthening our commitment to the arts through this world-class event.”

Over the past twenty years, BGL has taken part in numerous exhibitions, including events at MASS MoCA (North Adams, United States, 2012), MAC/VAL (Val-de-Marne, France, 2011-2012), the National Gallery of Canada (2008-2009), Casino Luxembourg–Forum d’art contemporain, Luxembourg (2005), the LaM (Lille Métropole, France, 2003) and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2001). The collective has also participated in the Bienal del fin del mundo (2007), the Biennale de Montréal (2007), the Bienal de la Habana (2006) and the Manif d’art, la Biennale de Québec (2000, 2005), as well in Nuits blanches in Calgary (2012), Paris (2011) and Toronto (2008). BGL is represented by Parisian Laundry in Montreal and Diaz Contemporary in Toronto.

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