October 4, 2012

Claire FontaineCarelessness Causes Fire

SFU Galleries at Simon Fraser University
Claire Fontaine, Situations (video still), 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

Carelessness Causes Fire is the first solo exhibition in Canada by the Paris-based “collective artist” Claire Fontaine, who is the Audain artist in residence for the fall of 2012. Taking her name from a common brand of French notebooks and stationary, Claire Fontaine is a self-described “readymade artist”, founded in 2004 and aided by her “assistants”, Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill.

Claire Fontaine’s work for Carelessness Causes Fire features sculpture, writing, video, and painting. These different media are used as “vectors of a specific intensity” to critically explore what the artist identifies as the “crisis of singularity” and the political impotency she sees in contemporary society.

The exhibition presents old and new works to examine the psychological and political consequences of the Arab Spring on the western perception of reality. The ambiguity of the exhibition’s title, lifted from a security warning found by the artist under an office chair, evokes both the metaphorical fire of the uprising as it invaded streets and buildings and the actual fire of weapons that often accompanied it.

A climate of blind, even careless, violence is also recreated through a number of works in the exhibition that quote the aesthetic codes of abstraction and minimalism. These enduring visual languages, although removed from figuration, still have ethical consequences. Here, the artist confronts these languages directly with the real world economic and political violence that they do not portray but, nonetheless, still intimately relate to.

The series of digital paintings titled Studies for Tactical Entry, for example, faithfully transcribes the representation of the “cones of action” of firearms held by two armed people as they traverse various corridors and stairways. Although the geometrical figures on the canvases appear very similar to the visual language of Suprematist painting, in reality, however, they are schematic representations used by the armed forces to display dangerous movements in interior spaces.

As part of their residency, Claire Fontaine will work with students from both the MFA Program at the School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University and the MFA in Visual Art Program at the University of British Columbia, screening a selection of films and leading a series of seminars exploring the artist’s notion of the “human strike.” This work with students will culminate in a final public presentation by Claire Fontaine, featuring a talk and a screening of excerpts from the selected films, on November 24 at 7pm at the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

Carelessness Causes Fire is realized with the support of the Consulat général de France in Vancouver, and presented in partnership with the Institutions by Artists conference, which runs from October 12 to 14, 2012, at Simon Fraser University at Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.
About the Audain Gallery
The Audain Gallery serves as a vital aspect of the Visual Arts program at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts. The gallery’s mission is to advance the aesthetic and discursive production and presentation of contemporary visual art through a responsive program of exhibitions and to support engaged pedagogy. The gallery encourages conceptual and experimental projects that explore the dialogue between the social and the cultural in contemporary artistic practices.

The Audain Gallery is curated by Sabine Bitter, working with gallery assistant Brady Cranfield.


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