A new exhibit at articule invites visitors to step into the darkness — and into the creative process itself. The artist-run centre has been transformed into a somber cavern, home to patchily lit dynamic worlds that shift and expand and threaten to overflow, a living animation that is experienced as it is created and will change constantly as the exhibition runs its course.
With Who Let the Dark In? Montreal artist Sarah Pupo translates her preoccupation with the materiality of animation onto the gallery walls, inviting her audience to think about how animation compresses a transformation of space and matter into linear motion in time.
“For me, that’s really important,” she says. “The transformation of physical stuff into this ephemeral light production is so amazing to me. Something happens there; there’s a magic there. So this is kind of like a magic cave.”
Visitors are welcomed by a large cut-out installation in the gallery’s front window, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope, which she initially created for musician Nina Nielsen. The exhibit’s next stage is a series of Pupo’s static watercolours, themselves experiments in the flow of the medium on paper.
Going through a curtain, viewers pass into a newly created back room, the walls painted black to frame the projection. A live feed streams from a camera above her animation table, tracking Pupo’s hands as she shifts and assembles the work.
“It’ll kind of be like process and product,” she explains. “When I’m making an animation, I’m in a different headspace and a different timespace. I wanted to allow people coming into the gallery to enter into that a little bit, to inhabit an animation and get into that mental space and watch the process.
“Everything is in flux and everything is getting built up and taken down and transformed, and the viewer will hopefully get a sense of that and get a sense of the process and of the materiality of making an animation.”
This is Pupo’s first solo show, though not for lack of output. She’s done album art and other work for bands like Pat Jordache, tUnE-yArDs, Loose Strife and Bruce Peninsula, and while she’s screened her animations before, this show brings her work to the next level by bringing the audience inside the work.
“It’s kind of a big experiment, but I figure my practice lends itself to that because I don’t edit anything and I have a really process-focused approach,” she explains. “It works for a thing like this, because you can do an animation on the fly and then it’s happening right there in the gallery space around you.”