Klaus Scherübel Sans titre (Seconde exposition des automatistes, au 75 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, chez les Gauvreau, 1947), annonce, 2019.
Photo : permission de l’artiste

Pulling Up the Image, Going Back in Time: Reconstitution as Knowledge in Klaus Scherübel’s Work

Patrice Loubier
In spring 2019 at VOX, Klaus Scherübel presented an intriguing and stimulating diptych installation that was ambiguous due to its documentary purpose and aesthetic offering. Scherübel reconstituted, in three dimensions, the domestic interiors visible in two iconic photographs of Automatist exhibitions taken by Maurice Perron, a member of the group and unofficial documentarian of its activities. The elements — artworks, walls, furniture — were plucked from the limited format of the black-and-white photographs and returned to a tangible presence closer to the one they had had seventy years earlier. Perron’s photographs — the only surviving visual traces of these events — offer evocative and fragmentary glimpses of the exhibitions. Bringing these images into the present means encountering the eloquence and limitations of their testimony. With this in mind, Scherübel chose a mode of reconstitution that fluctuates between faithful reconstruction and free reinterpretation.

The first event reconstituted by Scherübel, known as the second Automatist exhibition, featured work by six members of the group and took place in the home of Claude and Pierre Gauvreau’s mother, on Sherbrooke Street in Montréal, from February 15 to March 1, 1947.1 1 - Marie-Josée Jean, “‘Créer à rebours vers l’exposition’: The Case of the Second Automatist Exhibition” (Montréal: VOX, 2019), <centrevox.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Exposition-automatiste-Scherubel_essay-eng-2.pdf. The second exhibition view is a snapshot of works by Jean-Paul Mousseau and Jean-Paul Riopelle presented in the home of actress Muriel Guilbault that same year. In the transposition that Scherübel has completed, the photographs have given rise to installations that seem faithful yet become subtly enigmatic due to the differences that nevertheless exist between them. The reconstitution of the first photograph is, at first glance, very realistic, evoking the museographic device of the diorama thanks to the glass wall behind which it appears. The second involves a more theatrical staging, in which the paintings depicted in Perron’s photograph, hanging on a metal grid covering the walls of Guilbault’s apartment, have been rendered into simple, smooth wood panels that seem sunken in shadow, floating like ghostly presences in the semi-darkness.

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This article also appears in the issue 98 - Knowledge
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