January 26–March 1, 2008
Interested in the representation of contemporary narratives and subjective experience, Isabelle Pauwels’ work centres around language and social relations in conjunction with art, architecture and media. Pauwels engages with language in order to define and present personal intent, and within this determined structure presents possibilities for self-inscription. Her new three-part video work Triple Bill—the result of Pauwels’ visits to pornography theatres—is part documentary and part fiction. As a storyteller, Pauwels narrates her experience of the theatre’s architecture, social behaviours and films. Using various text screens, as well as recorded and edited conversation, Pauwels’ work forces the viewer to become a participant in the construction of the story and notions of subjectivity.
Pornography is used by Pauwels as a way of investigating what an audience wants. While her textual representation of the experience thwarts the psychic economy of porn, the issue of desire remains central. The presentation of Triple Bill takes into consideration the physical space of the porn theatre. The work draws a correlation between the theatre and the gallery as sanctioned spaces for viewing and pleasure. Pauwels has noted that pornography presents a huge reservoir to examine human behaviour, both in how the films and roles are scripted, and in the response they elicit from viewers. Here, pleasure is seen as a function of both met and unmet expectations. In examining what an audience wants, Pauwels reveals something of the way contemporary art audiences consume. There is a tension between the artist’s experience in Triple Bill and the passivity in the viewers’ digestion, both in pornographic films and in Pauwels’ work. Her work reveals surveillance as the flip side of performance: when watching—whether in the porn theatre or in the gallery—we behave as if we are not alone, as if we too are being watched. Ultimately, we scan for moments of pleasure and aberration.
This exhibition will be accompanied by a publication co-produced with Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto.
Title: Triple Bill
Category: Exhibition Catalogue
Artist: Isabelle Pauwels
Writers: Jessie Caryl, Séamus Kealy, Melanie O’Brian
Editor: Paloma Campbell
Design: Hodgkinson Design
Publisher: Artspeak, Blackwood Gallery
Printer: Hemlock Printers, Vancouver
Year published: 2008
Binding: Perfect Bound
Features: 4 b&w images, 9 colour images
Dimensions: 22 x 17 x 0.5 cm
Weight: 135 g
ISBN: ISBN 978-0-921394-57-0
Price: $5 CDN
This publication is a collaboration between Artspeak and the Blackwood Gallery and is printed in conjunction with Isabelle Pauwels’ new work, Triple Bill. It includes a new text work by Pauwels, critical texts by Jessie Caryl and Séamus Kealy and an introduction by Melanie O’Brian. The texts circumnavigate the eponymous video installation and speak to the sociological, psychological, political and urban topics that Pauwels’ work confronts.
Pauwels engages with language in order to define and present personal intent. Within this determined structure, she presents possibilities for self-inscription. Her three-part video work Triple Bill—the result of Pauwels’ visits to porn theatres in Vancouver—is part documentary and part fiction. As a storyteller, the artist narrates her experience of the theatres’ architecture, the social behaviours made possible within this space, and the theatre’s films. Incorporating static and urgent running texts as well as recorded and edited conversation, Pauwels’ work forces the viewer to participate in the construction of the story and to be aware that subjectivity is contingent and inflected by desire.