Kamloops Art Gallery | Samuel Roy-Bois
Originally from Québec City, Samuel Roy-Bois is based in the Okanagan, where he is Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus and heads an interdisciplinary lab for creative exchange called The Research Studio for Spaces and Things. Roy-Bois’ artistic practice involves site-specific installations concerned with the conceptual and material definition of space and the ways the built environment contributes to our understanding of the world. Through sculpture, found objects, photography and sound, Roy-Bois interrogates the relational network of objects and their historical resonance: how do we define ourselves through the creation of structures? Is it possible to conceive of one’s existence outside any material linkage? We make things, but are things making us?
In his 2013-15 touring project Not a new world, just an old trick, Roy-Bois built a large-scale model of an art gallery inside the exhibition space to house objects from the collections of various art institutions, selected by the artist, as a site to question the value and role of the objects populating an institutional collection. He also created an interactive, soundproof rehearsal space called Ugly Today, Beautiful Tomorrow, 2009, within the Vancouver Art Gallery, equipped with drums, a bass, two guitars and amplifiers, all of which visitors were invited to play. The sound from this room was then piped into the gallery’s lobby. In a recent project looking at the effect of architecture on collective memory, La pyramide, Roy-Bois reconstructed the previous architectural footprint of the artist run centre, OEil de Poisson, before it moved into its current location 20 years ago and invited two artists to invite two artists and so on, until there were 175 artists creating artwork to fill the space in a kind of artistic Ponzi scheme.
For his new body of work at the Kamloops Art Gallery, Roy-Bois creates a complex ensemble of constructed and found objects that investigate our contemporary material knowledge. Filling and intervening in the existing architectural space, Roy-Bois’ architectural structures act as vessels for everyday objects, pointing to the ways in which human experience is inextricably linked to manufactured “things” and spaces and how the greater meaning of our existence is being mediated through “things.” Referencing what the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard called hyperreality, a mode of existence based on the mediated real, Roy-Bois’ installation and photographs of momentary sculptures that exist only long enough to document, reveal our tenuous relationship with the real. Through utopian gestures, Roy-Bois’ projects work within an economy of means, blurring the border between art and life. His artistic strategies shift ordinary objects and spaces into a poetic dimension – potentially shifting the viewer’s perception.