Canadian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale


Artist: BGL Art Collective (Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère, Nicolas Laverdière)

Curator: Marie Fraser

Commissioner: National Gallery of Canada, Marc Mayer

Deputy Commissioner: National Gallery of Canada, Yves Théoret

Venue: Pavilion at Giardini di Castello

BGL, a Canadian collective comprised of Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère, Nicolas Laverdière, have become known in their home country as masters of immersive installation and public intervention. They have built carousels from guardrail stanchions, hawked hot dogs cooked on street grates, and filled entire rooms with post-party debris. In short, they fuse irreverent humor with a do-it-yourself aesthetic to question contemporary consumerist culture.

For their presentation at the 2015 Venice Biennale, they will completely transform—and add to—the smallish Canadian Pavilion building, erected in the Venice’s Giardini di Castello in 1958. This will be BGL’s first presentation of their signature large-scale installation work in Europe. Typical of their practice, they will use recycled materials—most transported from Canada in three 40-foot shipping containers—to construct an environment that carries viewers beyond Venice’s elegant, ancient streets and to a distinctly Canadian place. The installation follows a narrative of production and creativity churning in society’s margins, and outside of the commercial art world in particular.

The exterior of the pavilion will be partially obscured by scaffolding—a building under perpetual construction, like a house that was foreclosed before the contractors could finish the job. It leads into a slightly off-kilter rendition of a dépanneur, a Québécois convenience store usually found on street corners, quite roadsides, or backwoods towns. From there, viewers are led into a minimalist loft space, and then “the studio”—chock-full of dusty objects and dripping paint cans.

“Since the beginning, BGL has been fascinated by a marginal aesthetic and marginal people who are living outside of the mainstream—the bricoleur, the collectionneur—people who are, in their lives, recycling,” says curator Marie Fraser. “And not only recycling, but reusing and transforming the everyday object into something else. In a consumer society, recycling becomes a way to question society. ‘Canadassimo’ is about that.”

Explore the 56th Venice Biennale on Artsy.