The artist Daniel Corbeil before the inevitable

L'artiste Daniel Corbeil devant l'inévitable

Photo: Guy L’heureux
The cabin-ship designed by Daniel Corbeil would be the prototype the most successful up to this day to live and move in isolation.

“Dwelling, or in a greenhouse ? “The question is, inevitable even. What is, in effect, this structure, which can be visited from the inside to the center of the room Alfred-Pellan in the Maison des arts de Laval ? Plants grow in it, the furniture and books therein, and a semblance of life is palpable.

The mark, readable on one sheet of paper posted on the walls of the exhibition room, comes from the hand of Daniel Corbeil, the artist behind this project. It is party to both the process of creation and the enigmatic narrative that is presented to us. In themselves, these few words are a summary of the exposure Module of survival : a écofiction.

For the past twenty years, Daniel Corbeil plays on such ambiguities. His art is situated on the borders of science, the utility and a utopia of the not-so-crazy. Realistic in many respects, its projects, like the one of the current exhibition, are worn by issues that go beyond the artistic sphere.

L'artiste Daniel Corbeil devant l'inévitable

Photo: Guy L’heureux

The theme of survival and the potential failure of life on a planet increasingly polluted are at the heart of the multi-disciplinary practice of this artist — sculpture, drawing, photography are part of these main means of expression. As a scientist, he follows protocols and is working with living materials (plants growing here). As an author of science-fiction, or works of anticipation, it is in the projection. Fumiste or not, it doesn’t matter.

Author already in the past gear otherwise habitable, vehicular (Plane, ultra-light, 1994, for example), Daniel Corbeil offers in this new “écofiction” a structure with multiple functions. The cabin-ship of real size that takes place in the heart of the room would be the prototype of the most advanced up to date, or the ” module # 3 “, to live there and move there in autarky.

Several scales

Several items scattered here and there reveal that one is in front of a stage, or a show of objects, and not in front of a set coming soon on the market. The helmet of a diving suit, as well, has neither head nor tail — it is a globe, opaque and smooth on the surface. The sketch of the project Arius (2007) are more reminiscent of an accessory for a performance of François Morelli as an outfit to use in free fall.

And then there are miniature representations of a desert world, left at the foot of the central module. At Corbeil, the real and the imagined, the serious and the playful mix in all familiarity, without respect to scale changes.

The artist a native of Abitibi, now professor at the Cégep du Vieux Montréal, appears unassuming, it runs readily to a variety of sources. The books carefully placed inside the module or outside, as you refer both to the impossible (Utopia Forever : Visions of Architecture and Urbanism) that the verifiable (Prefab Houses). There is a call for an architecture that is more organic and human in scale, can be extravagant in his forms, but more eco-friendly.

He is a true scientist, or that he plays a fictional character, Daniel Corbeil does not skimp on the details of its work. Everything that is exposed on the walls — photos, drawings, specifications, writings or texts of reference, a true article of the colleague of the Duty Alexander Shields — serves as the manufacturing process of the module that the utopia behind him.

Remains the issue, regardless of how one interprets the exhibition, remains alarming : “Fifteen years to curb global warming “, advance the cut-off press. The machine of Corbeil may not be so futuristic.

Then, home or greenhouse ? Model without future or laboratory evidence ? A little bit of both, perhaps.

To note that the artist has been the subject of a massive monograph, launched in 2017 in addition to the expo Module of survival : a écofiction, while the latter was on show at the MA, the museum of art in Rouyn-Noranda.

Module of survival : a écofiction

Daniel Corbeil. At the Maison des arts de Laval, 1395, boulevard Le Corbusier West, until 3 February.

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