When the Guests Are Not Looking is a new installation and performance project by Richard Ibghy and Marilou Lemmens that examines audience expectations towards artists, artworks and art institutions. In their collaborative multidisciplinary practice, Ibghy and Lemmens investigate the material, affective and sensory dimensions of experience, and the ways in which the logic of economy infiltrates the most intimate aspects of our lives.
This project extends from a publication by the artists related to work, productivity and idleness. It is structured around Diderot's Rameau's Nephew (a satirical late 18th century text) which presents a dialogue between a philosopher and a vagabond that offers two opposing views on work: the philosopher loves unconfined thought, while the vagabond is an idler, buffoon, actor, and musician who avoids sites of production. Diderot's text provides an alternate view within the Enlightenment, a period often portrayed as the foundation of our contemporary obsession with productivity.
SFU students will workshop and interpret the publication through improvisational performances during the course of the project. The performers will inhabit the character of Rameau's nephew (the vagabond) and their performances will be sporadic so that visitors to the gallery may or may not witness a performance, and may or may not be aware that what they are witnessing is a performance. When the Guests Are Not Looking addresses the social demand for individuals to perform within the conditions of post-Fordist labour regimes and neoliberal social processes, and for the gallery to similarly "perform" within these circumstances.
Based in Durham-Sud, Quebec, Ibghy and Lemmens have had solo exhibitions at Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston (2017), Jane Lombard Gallery, New York (2017), Owens Art Gallery, Sackville (2017), Louise and Reuben Cohen Art Gallery, Moncton (2017), International Studio & Curatorial Program, New York (2016), YYZ Artists' Outlet, Toronto (2016), Esker Foundation Contemporary Art Gallery, Calgary (2016), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal (2016), and VOX - Centre de l'image contemporaine, Montreal (2014). They have participated in group exhibitions including the 2nd OFF-Biennale, Budapest (2017), Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver (2017), XIII Bienal de Cuenca, Cuenca, Ecuador (2016), Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga (2016), Art Gallery of Guelph, Guelph (2016), Postmasters Gallery, New York (2016), 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015), La Biennale de Montréal (2014), Manif d'art 7: Quebec City Biennial (2014), Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury (2014), Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway (2013), Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow (2012), and 10th Sharjah Biennial (2011).
Student performers are Marina Buston, Jessica Del Fierro, Lia Fallah, Cindy Kao, Tobias Macfarlane, Evan Medd, Darylina Powderface, Katrina Robinson, Elisabeth Saul, Jack Strudwick, Amanda Sum, Jessica Taylor, Henry Wu, Maria Yanagisawa, and Jordan Zanni.
Curated by Melanie O'Brian.