MAX LIBOIRON | ABUNDANCE
ODD Gallery Exhibition
June 26 – August 7, 2008
Artist Talk & Opening Reception: Thursday, June 26, 7 PM
During her six-week residency at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture, Max Liboiron produced Abundance, a gallery-specific installation made up entirely of Dawson City’s local and tourist garbage. The trash makes up a miniature natural history diorama of the town’s topography, as well as the four historical garbage sites that have serviced the area since before the Gold Rush. Each part of the diorama is modular and gallery visitors are invited to take pieces of it away with them for free, enacting a landfill that erodes out of the landscape and into people’s homes. Based on the idea that what gets to count as natural and what types of land and objects are valued is culturally manufactured, the installation is built facilitate the re-valuation and uptake of previously worthless “garbage,” while encouraging gallery visitors to consider how they participate in Dawson City’s landfills and landscapes. This project investigates the contrasting set of desires that we often expect the “natural world” to fulfill, the often misguided or romanticized ways in which we to look to nature to a locate sense of individual and cultural meaning.
The dizzying variety of “environmentalisms” at play today includes wilderness preservation, conservationism, green consumerism, developmental sustainability, and political ecology among many others. Many of these notions of environmentalim are contradictory, having their own agendas, goals, methods, utopias, sets of evidence and moral issues at stake. Many eco-isms naturalize their stories so they are able to construct a specific type of world vision that dictates the specific types of ecological problems, values and solutions possible within them.
My artwork takes different ecological narratives to their logical extreme to create speculative spaces, futures, and relations of human-ecology interactions made possible by different environmentalisms. Many environmentalisms naturalize their ecological narratives so that they construct a specific type of world that dictates the types of ecological problems, values, and solutions possible within them. The rationale for extending, hyperbolizing, or enacting these different descriptions of the world is to investigate the social values that go into each one. I use the both miniature dioramas and large-scale installations to mimic the “world making” practice of environmentalisms.
Recently, I have become interested in what structures of participation are available or possible within different environmentalisms. In Abundance at the ODD Gallery in Dawson City, participant’s actions are the basis of the piece, both in the sense that resident and visitor garbage make up the raw materials for the art, and that the idea of the piece rests on gallery visitors taking former trash as transformed and valued objects. Garbage is usually defined by its uselessness and its status as un-owned, un-wanted and un-needed detritus. By taking pieces of the exhibition away and eroding a landfill back into private and personal spaces, gallery participants challenge these definitions of garbage and set the stage for an environment where waste management can include aesthetics, revision, and gift economies.
Max Liboiron grew up in northern Canada in a small rural community. Her understanding of environmental relationships was formed within this context and has been influential in both her early studies in biology and her more topical inquiries in art. Now living between New York City and Winlaw, British Columbia, she brings the ideas, skills, and points of view she developed in the north to her art and to local instances of urban and rural “nature.” Max Liboiron holds an MFA and a certificate in cultural studies from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and BFA with Distinction from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Canada. She is currently pursuing a PhD at New York University in Visual Culture with a focus on environmentalism. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout North America.
Max Liboiron gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Steinhardt School of Art, Culture and Human Development, New York University. The artist also wishes to thank Mike Yuhasz, Tara Rudnickas, Lance Blomgren, Byrun Shandler, John Gould, Jacob Larson, Norm Carlson and the Dawson City Museum.