by Steve Rockwell
Ginette Legaré’s “Supply Chains” exhibition at Birch Contemporary in Toronto speaks to the moment, a time when the links to the network of things necessary or desirable to our lives are showing strain. Their pain has arrived in the form of higher prices for fuel and food, and frequently an empty shelf – the canary in the coal mine. Legaré’s “Hardwired” wall sculpture personifies want at its extreme, a skeletal Dickensian Oliver with an empty begging bowl who pleads, “Please sir, I want some more!”
Answering to any crimes associated with breaks in the supply chain may be educed from the artist’s “Lineup,” a sculpture that commands an entire wall. The viewer is invited as detective to ferret out the usual suspects from this motley crew of 21 danglers. The innocent one might be the lightbulb in the very top center of the lineup, its sole felony being one of omission, the poverty of illumination. It brought to mind Picasso’s “Guernica” with its exploding eye, similarly positioned to Legaré’s lightbulb. A further analysis of the eye and its perceptive properties is the artist’s “Le compas dans l’œil,” mounted on the wall of the gallery’s overflow office space. We accept “Guernica” as potent protest art against the heinous barbarism of war, with the understanding that an economic war may equally unleash untold global miseries through crippling disruptions in supply chains.
Legaré’s floor sculpture “Urban Strands” is reminiscent of a Rube Goldberg machine, which describes a chain-reaction contraption made to perform a simple task in a complicated way. In any case, “Urban Strands” seems to be a mash-up of the supply chain logistics from conveyor belt, packaging, shipping container, to shelf and display, equipped with a wire-frame that may have once held a mirror. The last item may be a bid to the viewer for a moment of reflection on the object’s wonder, as the consumer is simultaneously head and tail of this chain, being the ox that grinds the grain and also one who devours it.
Suspended from the ceiling of the gallery positioned to roughly its center was the wire sculpture “Upheld.” Sweeping upward above the walls of the show space gave it the properties of a tornado, as if harnessing into a funnel the charge emitted by the works, particularly from the densely-packed “Lineup” piece. If something purely visual could emit audio, this work might be likened to a “wall of sound,” something record producer Phil Spector achieved famously in pop music. Legaré’s “Lineup” as an LP has its A and B side of 20 works in grooves simulated by the suspended wires, each side evenly divided by the mute lightbulb.
Ginette Legaré’s “Supply Chains” exhibition is a patiently assembled body of primarily wire objects that have undergone a kind of excavation by the artist as found remains of a still-living civilization, their skins having sloughed to reveal something essential and new in the articulation of a language. The keys to its translation involves a mixing and matching the wire letters of the artist’s alphabet with our own experience as a way of “sounding out” the material world around us. It is through this process that Legaré’s lightbulb illuminates.
Ginette Legaré: Supply Chains (October 20–November 26, 2022). Birch Contemporary, 129 Tecumseth Street, Toronto, Canada M6J 2H2 416.365.3003 birchcontemporary.com