Although Barcelona has many commercial galleries, only a few are known for showing contemporary work by emerging artists. Among them is Galeria Toni Tàpies, whose exhibition Manoeuvres/Maniobres was devoted to a group of eight Canadian artists, all using handmade materials or recycled products to re-imagine and recast the familiar contours of their surroundings. The strongest pieces on view revealed, in their stubbornly manual construction, the neglected role of the individual labourer in an age of inescapable mass production.
Despite the show’s somewhat chaotic results—on an organizational level, it strained to encapsulate too many divergent ideas—the viewing experience was engaging, as many of the works were amusingly surreal. Dominating the far end of the second floor, Escultura amb perxell (Sculpture with Perxell, 2009) by the group BGL (composed of the artists Jasmin Bilodeau, Sébastien Giguère, and Nicolas Laverdière), is a tree made of plywood and plastic leaves. Its top branch spins, rather than waves, blowing in a breeze from fans housed in wall-mounted audio speakers. Though obviously fabricated, Escultura amb perxell managed to look pathetically alive in this manipulated environment where everything was wrong—the speakers didn’t even emit sound.
Read the full essay at frieze magazine.