Kevin Schmidt. Public Address System

Curators : Jean-François Bélisle and Charlotte Lalou Rousseau

From June 18 2022 to September 5 2022

About —

In this solo exhibition at the Musée d’art de Joliette, Canadian artist Kevin Schmidt presents his recent sculptural and multimedia installations. By dislocating techniques and concepts associated with spectacle and entertainment, the artist negotiates the parameters of private and public spheres, including notions of property and speculation. Schmidt transposes these to the knowledge economy by making artworks that favour a DIY, open source, and salvaging approach.

The enormous wooden speakers in DIY Hifi (2014-2018) are based on Nelson Pass’ designs, which are posted online and freely available to use. The gallery is sonically transformed with the addition of new sound dispersion panels that Schmidt has built from waste material—discarded furniture, logs left behind from industrial logging—to create an audiophile listening room. Typically a private space reserved for the initiated, this version invites the public to come play their own records. For How to Make an Off-grid Hydroelectric Light Show (2018), Schmidt converted a washing machine into a hydroelectric generator that powers a sound and light show in a British Columbia forest. As a way of giving back and contributing to an open knowledge economy, the process of creating the generator was filmed and made available as a series of online tutorials. Shot in a clear-cut area, the video combines capitalist exploitation, cultural economy, and the climate crisis.

Capitalism’s insatiability undeniably suffocates our environments—built and natural, personal and collective, private and public. Kevin Schmidt’s exhibition draws thought-provoking connections between art making, private property, and real estate speculation.

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Biography —

Kevin Schmidt lives and works between lands stewarded by the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples (now known as the city of Toronto) and the unceded territory of the Secwepmc (now known as Heffley Creek, BC). His practice functions as a critical and subjective examination of spectacle, with works often conflating and displacing, to provide ways of examining genres such as landscape, “how-to” instruction, or museum display. Schmidt’s recent solo exhibitions include 2018’s We Are the Robots at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Reckless, a public art installation on North Vancouver’s Polygon gallery.


The artist thanks the Canada Council for the Arts for their support.


Images in the banner:

View from the exhibition Kevin Schmidt: We Are the Robots, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2018. Photo: Rachel Topham

Kevin Schmidt, How to Make an Off-grid Hydroelectric Light Show, 2018. Photo: Evan Berg