Toronto

Séripop: Looming at YYZ

I first came across Montréal artist duo Séripop (Chloe Lum and Yannick Desranleau) a number of years ago when I was more embedded in the indie music scene here in Canada. In this sphere, the pair are known for their layered, DIY gig posters and refreshingly offbeat graphic design work. Despite their disregard for the formal rules of graphic design, Lum and Desranleau possess an intuitive approach to process that renders their work captivating.

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Séripop (Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum), Looming, screen printed paper, polyurethane foam, wood, paper mâché, felt-backed vinyl, fabric, paint, pantyhoses, fiber glass insulation batts, cardboard, plaster, hooks, pulleys, rope, found objects, 2013. Photo: Allan Kosmajac.

The duo’s playful, instinctual style is on full display in Looming, their current site-responsive installation at YYZ Artists Outlet in Toronto. While Lum and Desranleau both briefly attended art school, they left to pursue other interests (primarily their noise band AIDSwolf), enabling them to develop an aesthetic unconstrained by the pretensions of academia. Their works still conceptually draw from contemporary art tropes such as architectural theory and Bruce Nauman’s process-based approach, but they never lose their sense of wonder and playfulness, allowing for an immediate, visceral reaction. In recent years, Séripop have managed to carve out a respectable niche for their practice both within Canada and abroad, yet, as they note in an interview accompanying their piece Hoarding Skin (2011), they’re still “in it for the shits and giggles.”

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Séripop (Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum), This Particular Bias Will Nonetheless Set Up a Vast Field For The Unforeseen, Screen printed paper, wood, chairs, stool, spools, polyurethane foam, tempera, c-clamps, PVC shrink wrap, fabric, rope, rubber, 2013. Installation view at Galerie Hugues Charbonneau, Montréal, Canada. Photo: Éliane Excoffier. Image courtesy of the artists.

While recent installations such as This particular bias will nonetheless set up a vast field for the unforeseen (2013) and Uncountable (not comparable) (2012) are similar in their exploration of the materiality of paper as a sculptural medium, Looming marks one of the duo’s first forays into a completely immersive environment. YYZ’s unconventional space is covered from floor to ceiling with bright swatches of screen-printed paper—almost every inch is activated. Some are block colors, while others display patterns that mimic the gallery’s floors and ceiling. The loud colors and patterns compete optically in a way that creates a synesthetic reaction; for brief moments viewers may feel disoriented as the space almost absorbs them. Existing architectural elements in the gallery blend with the work. The only textual marker—a large gradient swath of paper to which the “balls” are fastened—references the gallery’s dimensions, highlighting the artists’ move towards site-responsive, rather than site-specific, installations, while ironically calling attention to the physical shortcomings and irregularities of this seemingly typical white cube.

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Séripop (Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum), Looming, screen printed paper, polyurethane foam, wood, paper mâché, felt-backed vinyl, fabric, paint, pantyhoses, fiber glass insulation batts, cardboard, plaster, hooks, pulleys, rope, found objects, 2013. Photo: Allan Kosmajac.

I hesitate to conflate Séripop’s poster practice with their installation practice, but there are connections that are relevant. In their posters, Séripop are known for making detailed images that they then bury under successive layers of pigment and imagery. It could be construed that while in the installation, the viewer is invited to physically occupy one of their poster worlds—the flat imagery, layering and psychedelia are made dimensional through the voluminous folds, precarious structures, and bold use of color. Similarly, the work embraces the ephemerality of paper and the gig poster itself. In their natural environment, affixed to bus stops, hoarding and telephone poles, posters eventually degrade and are destroyed by the elements. Séripop highlight this impermanence literally by tearing and layering the paper in the gallery space, but also by integrating notions of failure and chance into the very core of their recent practice. The duo has largely abandoned the hybrid, constructed forms that defined their previous work in favor of an improvisational, gestural approach to materials that celebrates both the failure and success of experimentation. As the installation evolves, the voluminous paper masses gradually deflate, and the large sheets of printed paper spilling across the floor become torn and dotted with footprints. This intentional ‘letting go’ leads to an entropic reading of the work in which the viewer becomes an integral component of this immersive, looming environment. A 2-D reading of this installation doesn’t do it justice; this work should be experienced in person.

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Séripop (Yannick Desranleau and Chloe Lum), Looming, screen printed paper, polyurethane foam, wood, paper mâché, felt-backed vinyl, fabric, paint, pantyhoses, fiber glass insulation batts, cardboard, plaster, hooks, pulleys, rope, found objects, 2013. Photo: Allan Kosmajac.

Looming continues at YYZ in Toronto until November 30, 2013

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