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Luther Konadu
Sebastien Aubin at the University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery
March 28, 2018

Sébastien Aubin’s no brighter in the middle at the University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery follows in the tradition of re-presenting found (and inherited) things as art. Included in his assortment of seemingly disparate objects are also fabricated works like a reflective piece that shows you the ground beneath your feet and a scroll of wall-mounted, all caps text written in syllabics that translates to “THE TRUTH.” Seeing as Aubin is a designer by trade who seeks to make objects for specific uses, his artworks are abstracted by the sheer fact that they don’t do what they were destined to; instead, they are arranged in frames, vacuumed sealed, disguised as something else, or sometimes just sit on the gallery floor as though awaiting another potential life. Usefulness here is redirected towards alternate, possibly undefined, ends.

Sébastien Aubin

Artists who embrace ready-mades (at least those with constructive approaches) do so with a critical eye towards the historical matrices that the chosen objects occupy, and then they push them out of their respective contextual frameworks onto newer avenues. Aubin continues this idea by weaving in an autobiographical historization of his collected objects. Discarded moccasins and moose antlers sourced from his reserve are vacuumed formed and framed to resemble relief sculptures that are protectively shrink-wrapped to form autonomous shapes. Resting casually on the floor is an animation projection with a sigil-like drawing (one Aubin was encouraged to keep drawing in his teens by his elders) that disappears into airy bits and reappears in a loop with a soundtrack that swirls to the moving image.

For Aubin, autobiography is inseparable from collective and community. He liberally relinquishes authorship in the objects he presents and, instead, opts for a collaborative approach, relying on fabricators and other community members to create and contextualize. An unassuming piece that is essentially a wall-high stack of gloves that were gathered with aid of community members indicates the implied experiences and legacies in utilitarian objects. Two totemic-sized industrial air ducts centered in the middle of the gallery not only emphasize this same notion, they pulsate with uncanny energy and make us sharply cognizant of our bodies and our relation to them as we move through the space Aubin has reconfigured.

In a culture where stuff is ubiquitous and ephemeral, imparting personal depth, affect, or alternative narratives is necessary for meaningful objects to live in our collective imagination. Aubin’s collected works are not mere metaphors for embodied histories, biography, or even the figure; rather, they exist parallel to it.

Sébastien Aubin: no brighter in the middle continues until April 13.
University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery:
The gallery is accessible.

Luther Konadu makes things such as photographs, paintings, and prints which he occasionally calls art. He self-describes as a transcriber. He contributes content to a publication called Public Parking. Most days his favourite colour is green and one of his goals in life is to never be an art brat. He is Akimblog’s Winnipeg correspondent and can be followed on Instagram @public_parking.



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