Michel De Broin: Pushing the scientific boundaries of art

Montreal based artist Michel de Broin is finding ways for us to escape reality. His works in sculpture, installation, and video all play with the laws of physics in order to create a sense of impossibility and wonder. De Broin seeks to bend, break, and repurpose the daily world with the intent to comment on it and to escape the rigidness of its natural laws.

Étant Donnés, 2013. “A mixture of water and fire flows from a sink lying on its side. The co-existence of opposing elements manifests itself in a familiar object rendered uncanny,” explains de Broin.

The Abyss of Liberty, 2013. “Inspired by the renowned neoclassical sculptures of Auguste Bartholdi, the Statue of Liberty has been toppled over and subsequently takes on a new posture, planted upside down. This configuration creates a perplexing situation in its ability to maintain balance against gravity, seeming to free itself from the laws of physics.” 

Majestic, 2011. “This work was produced as a Satellite project of the New Orleans Biennale, and has now been permanently installed permanently at National Gallery of Canada.  The work is constructed from lampposts uprooted by Hurricane Katrina. Reassembled around a core made from steel, the street lights are resurrected. The work questions the notions of horizon, equilibrium and entropy, referring to the solidarity with which the people rebuilt the city of New Orleans.”

For over ten years, de Broin has been visually portraying his critical and playful views of common objects and ideas. Many of his works are retooled everyday appliances, and make reference to social and political issues, science, philosophy, and art history. Crafting unforeseen relationships between these ideas and objects, de Broin defamiliarizes established modes of being in everyday environments.

“I look to play and cunning to develop any kind of alternative to interrupt the deadly boredom that links the normality to the reality,” explains de Broin. “Art is an attempt to evoke the world, but there is such a difference between the equations that describe the physical world and the experience we have of things. Scientists will never find a way for man to happily cross the threshold of a black hole; art is for me a way to make black holes that our senses can poetically slip into, escaping the normal order of things.”

Black Hole Conference, 2006. “This installation consists of a group of chairs attached to each other at the legs to create a sphere. In this utopian architecture, each element ensures and shares in solidarity with the others, the stability of the whole. This spiky structure forms a kind of immune system, a geometry configured in order to protect itself from the outside world.”

Bleed, 2009. “A power drill is punctured by five holes through which it bleeds water, like a fountain. The drill has committed suicide as a functional object to start a new life as an artwork.”

Superficial, 2004. “Invited to participate in an exhibition exploring the notion of transparency, I chose to envelop a large stone, tucked away deep in the Alsatian woods, with fragments of mirror.  In this play of splintered radiance, the rock disappears within its reflections.”

De Broin’s work has been exhibited around the world, and also stands in permanent, public displays in various cities. His most recent work, Mehr Licht, was unveiled in early 2015 in Berlin. The newly commissioned 20 metre work stands at the Bundestag federal parliament and is composed of a collection of distinct streetlights, each speaking to a particular civic aesthetic.

Mehr Licht, 2015.

To learn more about Michel de Broin and his work, please visit his website.

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