To December 8, 2013
In the exhibition Dédale, Alloucherie nimbly stepped inside the ambit of Montreal’s nightside. Using photography, installation and now, for the first time, video, she generates superb atmospherics from the city’s network of alleyways and their inhabiting shadows.
In the video component, three tall vertical videos of alleyways and their inhabitants – a cat on the prowl, a lonely runner, legions of shadows that flock in from all sides – transport us into those spaces effortlessly and with abandon. Ambient sounds on the soundtrack remind us that those spaces, seemingly so bereft of life, are very much alive.
In the eight towering photographs that accompany the videos, Alloucherie poises us on the thresholds of those alleys, with the sky’s pale white overhang an intimate intersection with the shadows cast on and by the walls of proximate tall buildings that dwarf us as we gaze upwards from the lane’s broken surface. Alloucherie takes photos of alleys in the late afternoon, but they read here as twilight spaces – haunting warrens of shadow, sheen and shade.
Finally, four white architectural elements are like portals or framing devices for the alleys shown in the photographs and videos. They are also surrogates for architectural forms in the urban core and serve as scaffolding and grounding for the images.
Streets and alleys account for thirty percent of a given city’s space. We associate alleys with the innermost margins of the city, with detritus and dark doings. Here, Alloucherie secures wholesale their liminality and poetic resonance. They acquire eloquence and meditative intensity.
But the alley, so ubiquitous to we lifelong inhabitants of the inner city as a purely marginalised space and, perhaps, one of jeopardy, may soon be extinct. In fact, urban planning departments throughout North America are considering alley-based infill as a means towards the construction of more urban housing. Thus, Alloucherie sheds light on the endoskeleton of the city while extending her poetic thematic of the urban space into new territory that may well soon be lost.
In all these works, we are reminded that shadow has always been integral to Alloucherie’s art. Here, she leads us into an understanding of the ontology of shadows through her evocation of the alley and its immanent darkness of shadow. ￼Indeed, fraught with incipient shadow, even in the late afternoon, these spaces possess a tactile and altogether alluring lustre.
Ably curated by Sylvain Campeau, this exhibition revealed Alloucherie at her best: gifted photographer, poet, installation artist, videographer and purveyor of the finest shadows. Beautifully installed, it also counts as one of the most successful uses of the Darling foundry large exhibition space in the history of that estimable institution. She has grown her art, all the while deepening the poetics of liminal and marginal spaces, and conjuring mensurable magic from the dark shadows of inner city alleyways.
James D. Campbell is a writer and curator based in Montreal who contributes regularly to Magenta Magazine among other publications.