Shannon Bool. The Shape of Obus

Curator: Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre

About —

Shannon Bool’s recent practice takes on many forms, including tapestries, silk paintings, collages, sculptures or photograms, all of which gravitate around a central theme: a critique of Modernism through unconventional material processes, combined with her own interpretation of psychoanalytical concepts.By examining the flip side of modernist currents, the artist reveals repressed aesthetic influences in both visual art and architecture.

The new body of work presented in The Shape of Obus foregrounds Bool’s current research on a series of erotic drawings begun by Le Corbusier in Algeria during the 1930s. These coincided with the initial stages of the architect’s urban plan designs aimed at transforming Algiers into a modern imperial capital, thus asserting the French presence in North Africa. Bool detects in the architect’s curved urban designs the direct consequences of his voyeuristic sessions; the sensuality of Moorish bodies, by association and projection, informing his proposals to redesign the city. The role of architecture in controlling both bodies and behaviour is also at the core of Bool’s approach, which identifies objectifying strategies used in interior design, specifically in the arrangement of niches, alcoves and viewpoints within domestic spaces. Here, the violence of the idea of progress supporting Le Corbusier’s proposal to modernize the city is made visible by the artist, who literally superimposes on the bodies – of women and colonialized – the plans’ intended restrictive megastructures.

Decorative motifs, craft techniques, images from popular culture, references to bodies, and the stimulation of affect are just some of the methods used by the artist to disrupt our interpretation of formalism. By integrating the Other – whether it be the female figure or exotic fetishism – Bool manages to reveal Modernism’s unconscious side. Through her psychoanalytic readings, the themes and spaces she observes become “cases of dissociation” exemplified by the encounter of opposing materials, techniques and concepts, therefore undermining their internal cohesion. The artist’s critical stance reveals the subtexts of images that have held her attention. By thwarting their seductiveness, Bool reveals the density of the messages they convey, even unwittingly.

© Shannon Bool, Oued Ouchaia, 2018.
Courtesy of the Daniel Faria Gallery (Toronto) and the Kadel Willborn Gallery (Düsseldorf).

Biography —

Born in Comox, BC in 1972, Shannon Bool works and lives in Berlin. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Frankfurt Cathedral with Portikus, Frankfurt a.M (2017), Peles Empire, Berlin (2017);  Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary (2016); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2015); Galerie Kadel Willborn, Düsseldorf, Germany (2015); Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto (2015); Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany (2012); Gak-Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst Bremen, Bremen, Germany (2010); Centre Rhénan d’Art Contemporain Alsace, Altkirch, France (2010); and RMIT Project Space/Spare Room, Melbourne, Australia (2008). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2017), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2016), and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy (2013).