MICHELLE BUI - FILM

2020

The RAD HOURANI foundation is proud to present a window into the world of Michelle Bui through a narration by the artist and a reflection on Art and the creative process.

This short film directed by Rad Hourani himself was launched in his "carte blanche" at the 38TH EDITION OF LE FIFA film festival on art.

 

 

 

 

SOME THOUGHTS BY MICHELLE BUI

ON INSPIRATION AND DESIRE

MY INSPIRATION COMES FROM OBJECTS THAT I FIND ON MY DAILY ROUTES, OR PERHAPS IN A LARGER SCOPE, IN THE GENERALITY OF THE EVERYDAY OF GOING AROUND TO ACCOMPLISH WHATEVER IT IS I INTENDED TO DO. I AM NEVER REALLY OUT LOOKING FOR SOMETHING SPECIFIC, IT’S MORE LIKE STUMBLING UPON AN OBJECT THAT WILL SPEAK TO ME FOR AN ARRAY OF REASONS. THE ONES THAT KEEP LINGERING IN MY MIND WILL MAKE THEIR WAY INTO MY WORK. THERE IS NOTHING PRECIOUS ABOUT THE OBJECTS THAT I USE AS MY DAYS REVOLVE AROUND COMMON CONSUMER PLACES; SUPERMARKETS, HARDWARE STORES, ARTS & CRAFTS SHOPS, DRUGSTORES, ETC. THEREFORE, IT IS NATURAL TO HAVE THEM PART OF MY PRACTICE TOO. THIS FEELING OF ATTRACTION AND DESIRE FEEDS MY PRACTICE. A LOT OF ELEMENTS I INTEGRATE APPEAR WET, SHINY, DESIRABLE THROUGH THEIR SHAPE OR COLOUR. THERE’S DEFINITELY AN UNDERLYING VIOLENCE TO MY IMAGES AS WELL- TIGHT KNOTS OF RIBBONS, TIE-WRAPPED FLOWERS, PLASTIC LOOPS GOING THROUGH AND OUT. I’M CONSTANTLY TRYING TO DEFINE WHAT DESIRE IS AND STRIVE TO MAKE IT MATERIAL. THE SEARCH FOR AN ECSTATIC EXPERIENCE CAN BE PERVERSE AND THERE’S A GOOD DOSE OF VULNERABILITY TO BE DISPLAYED THROUGH THIS PROCESS. FOR ME, THIS ALSO BECOMES A REALLY GOOD TERRAIN FOR HUMOUR AND SELF-MOCKERY. IT’S A CONTEXT TO PLAY WITH, AND AFTER ALL, IT’S REALLY JUST OBJECTS THAT I’M DEALING WITH. THAT’S WHY ARTISTS SUCH AS SARAH LUCAS, CINDY SHERMAN AND THE AUTHOR CHRIS KRAUSS HAVE A HUGE INFLUENCE ON MY PRACTICE AS THEY ARE ABLE TO ARTICULATE SUCH COMPLEX AND CONTRADICTORY IDEAS OF FEMININITY AND SEXUALITY IN AN UNAPOLOGETIC AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING WAY.

BETWEEN SCULPTURE AND PHOTOGRAPHY: A STRIVE FOR BALANCE

MY RESEARCH STARTED THROUGH A SCULPTURAL PRACTICE. I WAS IMMENSELY ATTRACTED TO ALL OF THESE VERY TACTILE OBJECTS AND MATERIALS, THINGS THAT HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF REVERSIBILITY, A CAPACITY TO REGAIN THEIR ORIGINAL SHAPE. THIS RESEARCH ALL CAME AT A TIME WHEN I WAS MOVING A LOT, STUDIO-HOPPING ALL THE TIME AND I KEPT ACCUMULATING FOR NO PARTICULAR PURPOSE. WORKING WITH MALLEABLE MATERIALS BECAME A NECESSITY, A WAY TO KEEP MY CREATIVE ENDEAVORS GOING WHILE LIMITING CONSUMPTION. THE ONLY WAY TO TRACK THIS WAS BY TAKING PHOTOS OF EACH TRANSFORMATION WHICH FOR ME WAS ALSO A WAY TO TALK ABOUT THE HUMAN BODY, OUR MALLEABLE COMPOSITION AND OUR CAPACITY TO ADAPT, OUR RESILIENCE. MY PRACTICE HAS EVOLVED FROM THAT POINT WITH MUCH MORE FOCUS NOW ONTO THE OBJECT, THE SHEER QUANTITY OF “STUFF OF THE WORLD” THAT ALSO MAKES IT INVISIBLE BIZARRELY ENOUGH. THERE IS A NUMBING EFFECT THROUGH THIS PERPETUAL EXCESS AND I FEEL LIKE ARRESTING THIS SPIRAL THROUGH MY OWN FORM OF ARCHIVAL PRACTICE. MY WORK IS ALSO ABOUT

Q1 : What’s the genesis of the film?

LOOKING FOR A BALANCE BETWEEN OPPOSITES. NOT UNLIKE IKEBANAS WHERE THE COMPOSITION REACHES A FORM OF EQUILIBRIUM IN FORMAL, VISUAL ASPECTS, BUT ALSO SYMBOLICALLY. FOR ME, THIS MEANS LOOKING FOR A FORM OF TRANSGRESSION IN THE USE OF EVERYDAY OBJECTS. BY USING THE LANGUAGE OF GLOSSY ADVERTISING AND PACKSHOT PHOTOGRAPHY, I AM AWARE OF THE DANGER OF MAKING SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL IMAGES, AND IT’S TOTALLY FINE IF THE VIEWER READS IT AS THAT, BUT FOR ME, A PHOTO IS REALLY SUCCESSFUL ONCE I REACH A SLIGHT DISRUPTION. NOT ENOUGH FOR THE IMAGE TO BE DISQUALIFIED AS BEAUTIFUL, BUT JUST ENOUGH TO INSTILL A FEELING OF UNEASE FOR THE VIEWER AND PERHAPS ALLOW TIME FOR OTHER SUBTLETIES TO UNFOLD FROM THERE. THE SENSE OF BALANCE IS PRECISE AS IT PLAYS ON THE LINE WITHOUT TIPPING ON ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER. THIS ALSO TOUCHES THE QUESTION OF LONGEVITY. OBJECTS AND MATERIALS HAVE DIFFERENT LIFESPAN. ANIMAL ORGANS AND CUT FLOWERS WILL PERISH MUCH FASTER THAN A PLASTIC GLOVE BUT ARE SOMEWHAT FROZEN IN MY IMAGES AT MIDPOINT.

ON ADVERTISING

THERE’S A FLUX OF IMAGES CIRCULATING TODAY, IN SUCH QUANTITY THAT WE CAN’T REALLY CONTROL IT, AND MY IMAGES ARE ALSO PART OF THAT SYSTEM TOO. THAT’S ALSO WHY I’M INTERESTED IN PLAYING WITHIN SOME OF THE MAINSTREAM CODES, THE IDEA OF THE MONUMENTAL ADVERTISING BANNERS BEING CONSTANTLY REPLACED, THIS CONSTANT OBSESSION WITH THE NEW. MY IMAGES ARE NOWHERE NEAR BILLBOARD SIZE, BUT LARGE ENOUGH TO DEMAND ATTENTION AND PLACED IN A SETTING WHERE YOU CAN BE VERY CLOSE TO IT. I’VE WITNESSED A LOT OF PEOPLE TOUCH MY PHOTOS AS IF TO BETTER UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY SEE. BY CHANGING THE SCALE OF OBJECTS, BLOWING IT UP, THE FOCUS IS LESS ON THE OBJECT ITSELF. INSTEAD I LOOK AT IT AS A CHANCE TO BECOME UNFAMILIAR FOR A MOMENT AND PERHAPS OPEN A SPACE FOR OTHER SENSORIAL PERCEPTIONS TO COME IN.

 

ON OBJECTS AND CONSUMPTION

I’VE JUST FINISHED A TWO-YEAR STUDY ON STILL LIFE WHERE OBJECTS WERE DETACHED FROM SATURATED BACKDROPS AND IN WHICH I WAS THINKING A LOT ABOUT OBJECTS AS AN EXTENSION OF OUR BODIES. WHILE I STILL RETAIN INTEREST IN THAT, MY PRACTICE HAS SHIFTED TOWARDS OUR SHEER OBSESSION WITH OBJECTS AND THE DESIRE TO CONSUME THAT PROVOKES SUCH EXCESS. WE LIVE IN AN ILLUSION OF ABUNDANCE WHILE BEING VERY AWARE THAT WE ARE COMING TO AN END, BUT SOMEHOW, TO PACIFY THIS ANXIETY, WE JUST KEEP ON DOING THE SAME WITH ADDED VIGOUR TO OUR EVENTUAL LOSS. THERE’S THE QUESTION OF CAPITALISM AND ECONOMY WITHIN MY PIECES, BUT MY INTEREST REALLY LIES BEFORE THAT, ON HOW WE HAVE ARRIVED TO EXPERIENCE OUR OWN DESTRUCTION AS AN

AESTHETIC PLEASURE. IT’S VERY TWISTED, BUT WE DO LIVE IN DICHOTOMIC TIMES, THE EXTREMES BEING PULLED FURTHER AWAY AND TOLERATED. I’M TRYING TO MAKE SENSE OF THIS WITHIN MY WORK, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE END OF THE WORLD AND A FEAST OF SENSES.

 

ON COLOUR

PERHAPS WE KNOW THOSE EXAMPLES TOO WELL, BUT FLOWERS ATTRACT BEES TO THEIR NECTAR THROUGH THEIR COLOURS AS DO MALE BIRDS WITH THEIR BRIGHT ROBES TO FIND A PARTNER DURING MATING SEASON. IT TOOK A WHILE BEFORE I STARTED INTEGRATING COLOURS IN MY WORK AS IF I WAS TOO SHY TO DO SO. BUT COLOURS ARE SYMBOLIC, EMOTIONAL, PART OF MY IDENTITY-CONSTRUCTION, AND AS I TOOK CONFIDENCE IN MY WORK, I ALSO BEGAN TO BE MORE PLAYFUL WITH MY COLOUR PALETTE, CREATING FRICTION AND DISSONANCE, WITH BRIEF MOMENTS OF HARMONY TOO! COLOUR IS NOW CENTRAL TO MY PRACTICE. I HAVE A STRONG PENCHANT FOR THE ONES THAT LOOK LIKE THEY’RE INFUSED WITH PETROLEUM OR ARTIFICIAL ADDITIVES, AS IF THEY WERE DRIPPING IN ENAMEL. ALL THOSE SHINY SURFACES AND MATERIALS REFLECT LIGHT IN A VIOLENT MANNER, CREATING GLARES AND OVEREXPOSED AREAS THAT I CAN’T CONTROL. GOING BACK TO THIS IDEA ABOUT VIOLENCE, IT’S NOT ABOUT AN EXTERIOR ACT, BUT IT’S ABOUT THE ONE THAT IS SUGGESTED WITHIN THE OBJECT AND MATERIAL THAT TRIGGERS CREATIVE EXCITEMENT.

 

ON RAD HOURANI

RAD HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN IMPORTANT FIGURE IN THE DESIGN AND ART WORLD AND HAS PERSONALLY BEEN AN INSPIRATION SINCE I’VE FOLLOWED HIS PROJECTS FOR THE PAST DECADE, MANY YEARS BEFORE MEETING HIM IN PERSON. HIS PRODUCTION COMPANY USED TO BE SET UP IN THE BUILDING WHERE I HAD A STUDIO TOO, AND SO TO SEE SOMEONE FROM A RELATIVELY SMALL CITY LIKE MONTREAL, OPERATE FROM HERE AND MAKE HIS MARK IN COUTURE WEEKS IN PARIS WHILE DEVELOPING HIS CONCEPTS THROUGH MUSEUM SHOWS IN MULTIPLE CITIES AND STAYING TRUE TO HIS VISIONS THROUGHOUT, THAT DEFINITELY HAS AN ONGOING IMPACT ON ME. SINCE MEETING HIM IN THE PAST YEAR, I’VE ALSO BEEN STRUCK BY HIS KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY IN SUCH AN ALTRUISTIC WAY. HE HAS BEEN VERY SUPPORTIVE OF MY PRACTICE AND LEARNED SO MUCH FROM HIS CREATIVE PROCESS. ALL THAT HAS BEEN VERY NOURISHING AND I REALLY HOPE HE HAS BEEN ABLE TO LEARN A FEW THINGS FROM ME TOO!

MICHELLE BUI "OBJECTS FOR THE AUDIENCE"
MAY 5TH TO JUNE 5TH 2020 

 

 

MICHELLE BUI PHOTOGRAPHED BY KATHY VERVILLE - WEARING RAD HOURANI UNISEX CLASSIC COLLECTION - EDITOR CHARLOTTE LAVALLÉE

© RADHOURANI