Like every year for the past three years, I did the Montreal All-nighter, and like a lot of people, I stopped by Karine Giboulo’s All you can eat installation at the Hall des Pas perdus in Place des Arts. Giboulo was making a comeback to the Nuit Blanche, with her unmistakable comic strip-style scenes created through figurines and miniature-size objects locked in a box-building with windows inviting visitors to peek inside.
This time, the Montreal-based artist was inspired by her latest trip to China in December 2007, and more precisely to the Factory of the World that is the region of the Pearl River delta in the province of Guangdong. “3/4 of our things come from China and most people don’t know how the workers who made them are living”, she relates.
The exposed structure is made of larges interconnected boxes containing characters busy raising pigs, eating them at the cafeteria, or again, taking a break in their dormitory bed. The result is not foreign to the reality of Chinese factories, where workers often live within the compound of their workplace. “I wanted to discuss the theme of food production, which is a very important issue for the environment”, tells Giboulo about the presence of winged pigs fed with “Miracle-Gros”.
Asked about what stroke her the most about China, she starts by saying that it life outside: “It’s always full of life outside. People walk out with a table and play just like that”.
Finally, Giboulo confides to us that she was preparing the exhibit with a certain apprehension, not knowing how the Chinese community would perceive it. Other pieces about the same themes as All you can eat will be shown at the Galerie SAS from November 12th to December 13th, 2008. All you can eat will be at the NAC in St. Catharines, Ontario, from March 16th, until April 15th, 2008. To conclude, she says that this exhibit is in a sense a tribute to workers whose work serves to make countries like China emerge, and also to provide us with material comfort here in the West.