Montreal’s Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum first burst into prominence in the early 2000s on the twin strength of their skin-flaying avant-rock group, AIDS Wolf, and the eye-expanding psychedelia of their visual art project, Seripop. While the sonic half sadly blazed out this spring with a series of farewell performances, the duo has since stepped up its visual efforts, resulting in large-scale and increasingly ambitious installations.
Following exhibitions in the states, abroad and at home, they’ve now set up shop at Calgary’s Truck Gallery to transform the space with their latest room-sized creation — The Options that are Offered to Us: The Least Likely / The Most Tolerable. With the screen-printed poster as its primary medium, it will utilize both the walls and the floors of the gallery to mess with spatial perceptions and bring visitors through the looking glass. According to the gallery’s accompanying blurb, the piece “ignores traditional hanging conventions and tries to articulate the work and the space containing it as one sentence.”
Meanwhile, Desranleau’s own description is equally abstract.
“The piece doesn’t really exist yet,” he explains with a laugh. “Well, it does, but it won’t be mounted until we get there, so we had to explain it through sketches. Essentially, it’s a series of peeling strata. We’re using successive layers of paper to make previous layers come to life, through the action of digging out without ripping. Think of pushing away sheets on a bed to reveal the layers underneath.”
For a recent stint at Mississauga’s Blackwood Gallery, Seripop used the epic whale tale Moby Dick as a swimming-off point. The playful piece What Should Have Been And What Was Not — built from fishing net and hundreds of hand-assembled paper anchors — invited visitors to explore the work from all sides and even stand directly below the belly of the beast. At Truck, they hope to offer a similar 2D and 3D experience.
“There’s always a certain level of interactivity, especially with the most recent pieces we’ve done, but we generally focus on their immersive nature and the limits of that,” says Desranleau. “It’s not really about having a hands-on experience with the work; it’s a little more detached than that. But when you’re in the space, you’re literally inside the work as well. It’s not the typical relation between a person and a piece. The art is all around you.”
Though they originally earned an online following with the vibrant colours and mutated cartoon characters of their screen-printed show posters, Seripop has also retired from this field, choosing to infiltrate the art world instead. It’s one thing to view their installations as a series of jpegs, but as far as Desranleau is concerned, that simply won’t cut it.
“A big part of the art experience is witnessing it in person,” he says. “Having photos on the Internet is nice, but Jesus Christ! It’s so much better to see stuff in real life. I know I sound like a mystical fucking freak, but when you’re in the studio and things are happening, or when you have art being mounted in a physical space, you see it and you feel it. It doesn’t matter what materials are used or how slick it is. That’s something you can only get when you’re right there.”