In this installation of new drawings and works on paper by Hélène Baril, a space of hostility opens up that lies somewhere between Dürer’s Melancholia 1 and Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy. Her drawings reproduce the alienation and estrangement that haunt our daily experiences through her use of repeated motifs that occupy and explore negative affect against the normative expectations which attempt to diminish them.
The main image that Hélène utilizes is that of the car crash or a crash aftermath, which has been drained of its shock and emotion, and is being inhabited in some way. The drawings are littered with the twisted carcases of automobiles entwined with pastoral motifs and playing children, but each crash-event is different. Each image is not the repetition of a singular event, but a cascade of parallel scenarios and universes passing through a prism of re-written scenes that incessantly interrupt any attempt to organise them into a sequential narrative. It is not even clear if the accident in anyway ‘belongs’ to the characters who inhabit the drawing fragments.
In Hélène’s work, the car crash is an incident that defines and eradicates a moment, it cuts it from everything that precedes it, it ruptures any meaningful passage from A to B. Instead it sets up an island out of time into which the children and puppets can act out their parts. The crashes are not owned by anyone in the drawings; they are not your or my crash; rather there is a field or relation of crashing which precedes everything. From this damage-field emerge the relations and socialisations of the drawing’s characters.
Baril indicates, in the large banner-shaped drawing that finishes the exhibition, that the refusal of her characters to acknowledge or attempt to change their place within the ‘crash’ has a political dimension. She proposes delinquency as her prefered activism; to resist the cure, to act out and act-up. Her work plays out in a world that is quietly abnormal and weirdly restrained; where no one is quite themselves as the best strategy for modern life.