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 shown their work extensively nationally and internationally.
Curated by Melanie O’Brian
This project is part of Of Bodies, On Land, In Time, a three-year SFU Galleries series that foregrounds performative, process-based and embodied practices that attend to the social, political and economic pressures that impact people, land-relations, and material and immaterial culture.
Opening Reception and Artist Talk
Saturday, January 20, 3 – 5pm
Saturday, February 3, 1pm
Part of the Downtown Vancouver Gallery Tour
Panel Conversation: Performing Intertextuality
Wednesday, February 28, 7pm
Panelists will consider how artists read history through literature, literature through performance, performance through history. The cultural and socio-geographic contexts within which Denis Diderot and Hugo Carillo wrote will be discussed, alongside the current cultural and social climate within which Ibghy, Lemmens and Ramírez-Figueroa revisit their texts.