Written by Clara Guzmán
The names Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère and Nicolas Laverdière might not say anything to you. But if I mention BGL, this probably will ring a bell in your head. The artist collective, settled in Québec city, is well known across Canada. But if for any reason you haven’t heard of them yet, maybe this is a good time.
BGL de Fantaisie (or BGL Fancy in English) is a documentary which showcases the latest art work of the Québécois trio. Focused on their last three large scale projects, this film is the perfect excuse for those who wanted to know more about them. From Montreal to Toronto, the highlight of the movie is clearly ‘Canadissimo’, the artwork presented by the collective to participate in the 56th Biennale in Venice representing Canada.
In less than 90 minutes, the film uses these three installations to make an overview of the prolific (and disconcerting) career of the collective. Jasmin, Sébastien and Nicolas, who met as students at Laval University, established BGL in 1996. Since then, the collective has produced a large amount of different works. But all of their works have something in common: the reaction that they trigger on the spectators.
Their installations are anything but normal. Critical, unusual, and always extravagant, most of them are made reusing and recycling found objects, playing with the concept of what ‘normal’ art should be. The collective utilizes urban stereotypes as reference to criticize the relationship of the society with the consumer culture and its consequences. Created specifically for the location, each piece is unique, and sometimes fully functional, as is true for the installation ‘Carrousel’.
But the artwork of BGL is more than just that. They go beyond art precisely to criticize conventional art. In their own words, “We take genuine pleasure in breaking out of the traditional framework in which art is experienced, in order to bring the human being and art closer together and to give the alert, unsettled spectator a physical and active experience.”
Indeed, the interaction with the viewers is key on the trio’s work. By observing the exhibition, the spectators become more aware of their implication as individuals on this consumer society. Or, at least, that’s what BGL tries to do by readapting disposable objects for their pieces.
Written and directed by Benjamin Hogue, the idea of the documentary started almost by accident. Friends of a common friend, after spending a night together at their studio, Hogue couldn’t stop thinking of them, and the idea of the film slowly started to grow. A couple of years later, his idea is now a reality, and it’s definitely a good way to approach BGL’s unconventional art.
BGL Fancy screened at the Cinémathèque Québécoise and Cinéma du Parc.