IWantmyStuffBack is a performative protocol as well as a sculptural and video installation created by Antoine Caron [student member, UQAM] and presented at Chaufferie du Pavillon Cœur-des-sciences de l’UQAM from March 21 to 27, 2022 as part of a residency held at Hexagram in the winter of 2022. In February 2019, a fire on the second floor of a commercial building housing a rental storage site forced the eviction of a community of artists and artisans who were clandestinely renting studio space from the owners of the company.
Summary | 02.2019 – 03.2022
In February 2020, two impromptu residencies, held in rented storage units in Dallas and New York, aimed to capture the material conditions of the art production that took place in these studios before the fire. In March 2021, following the restrictions imposed by the sanitary measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the online infrastructure for the auction of units “abandoned” by their tenants in default of payment became a field of experimentation of the economic flows that run through these tin architectures. Flows that circulate online through several websites where these units are sold as single lots and where anonymous buyers actively speculate on the resale value of their contents. On these minimalist interfaces, the storage unit, after having presented itself as a workshop and creation space, becomes a diffusion space.
IWantmyStuffBack | 21.03.22 – 27.03.22
IWantmyStuffBack presents itself for Caron as an opportunity to reflect on the different economies that simultaneously run through the storage unit and the artistic practice that emerges from it: the economy of debt (Lazzarato, 2011), the affective economy (Massumi, 2018), and most importantly, the economy of means and the politics of making do with (Brunette and Lemieux, 2021).
In the exhibition, Caron integrated these three visions of transindividual economies (Massumi, 2018), which are fluid, speculative, and highly mobile, with the aforementioned performative protocol. The latter, developed in the various studio units, consisted of (re)producing simplified versions of my first studio and then using the components of these studios in sculptural compositions. The rooms of the Chaufferie were occupied as workshops, in a similar functional relationship
During the exhibition, changes in the arrangement of the elements present were documented by a pamphlet available on site. This pamphlet, reprinted daily according to the movements of the objects contained in the installation, makes it possible to trace the different configurations of the space of the Chaufferie as it was experienced by visitors during the exhibition. It also documents, conversely, the evolution of his own relationship to the rooms of the Chaufferie and the objects it contained.
Debt economy first of all because it is, among other things, the effect of a debt accumulated by the tenant of a unit towards its owner that allows the content of a storage unit to be momentarily transformed into a social object. In a cultural and visual object first diffused on the Web during the auction and in a second time in the interpretation of these images during the exhibition presented at the Chaufferie.
Affective economy because dependent on the affects distributed in the social body, materialized in commodities that inhabit us and that we inhabit simultaneously. Dividual affects, autonomous and always only temporarily constituted within an “individual” or a unit. In the case of storage, at the moment of dispossession, the moment when the contents of the unit change hands according to a punitive contractual clause, the contingent, relational and therefore affective nature of the stored object becomes perceptible. The myth of liberal orthodoxy that property is totally private and fundamentally inalienable is here undermined by the very legislative framework that is supposed to defend it. Instead, property is presented as an unstable state, always socially conditioned. In the exhibition at the Chaufferie, the commodity, the object that lent itself to the game of the device, thus had the potential to directly affect the cohesive relationship of the installation by adopting a new state every day.
Economy of means finally because precisely the technical device and the conceptual framework of the exhibition rested both on the economy of means that characterizes as much the architecture of the storage unit with the sheet metal walls as the mode of spatial organization that its use prescribes. We assemble, we agglomerate, we verticalize. One literally makes with. The whole installation device was based on temporary and reusable hanging or assembly processes that facilitated the movement of the exhibited objects..
Antoine Caron, is an artist-researcher living and working in Montreal (Tiohtià:ke/Mooniyang), founding member of Atelier La Coulée, he is a Master’s candidate in Visual and Media Arts at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Arts and Art History from Concordia University. His sculptural and installation practice is largely influenced by the work of conceptual artists active since the 1960s. His work, rooted in radical political and materialist philosophical propositions, has been presented in Montreal, notably at the Darling Foundry, as well as at community events and at the Nuit des idées 2021. His work has been supported by the Hexagram network and by Médiane | Chaire de recherche du Canada en arts, écotechnologies de pratique et changements climatiques.
Antoine Caron would like to thank the Médiane research chair, the Hexagram network, Atelier La Coulée, the Fondation de l’Université du Québec à Montréal and the Fondation de l’Université du Québec for their support in this project. He thanks his research director Gisèle Trudel, Julien Charron-Forget, Sophie Levasseur, Athanasia Blounas, André Girard and Patrick Veys for their precious help.