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Stanley Février

Être humain, est-ce un mal(e) absolu?
January 29 to April 24, 2022

Être humain, est-ce un mal(e) absolu? is a participatory and multidisciplinary exhibition combining videos, drawings, sculptures, photographs, posters, neon fixtures, and objects that update the image of the “human zoo” in order to instigate a dialogue on the notion of identity construction in the era of social networks: self-modelling and self-posting, feeding into the culture of narcissism.

Human zoos, popular in the late nineteenth century, were “ethnographic exhibitions,” places where racism was blatantly expressed and displaying a theatre of terrible cruelty: that of the supremacy of the white “race” and the “society of the spectacle” described by the essayist Guy Debord as a tool of propaganda, of the hold of capital over our lives, and of a social relationship between people mediatized by images. Social networks accentuate this exhibition of the self and of its capital. Through our screens, we decide to be part of a new human zoo.

Does this form of spectacle of the “self” serve to gain us social recognition? To generate a sense of belonging to a dominant group within a world standardized by digital media? What is hidden behind our screens? Behind the curtain of our individual theatres? In the backstage of our psyches and our lives, veiled by appearances and pretense? According to Freud, the development of science inflicted three successive narcissistic wounds on humanity: “Earth is not the centre of the universe” (Copernicus); “Humanity is the fruit of evolution” (Darwin); and a psychological wound: the discovery of the unconscious through psychoanalysis. Today, a fourth wound has been added, the Anthropocene, which compels humanity to reconcile with its environment, with other forms of life and other humans, no longer to subjugate but to collaborate.

The exhibition is divided into three sections: a retrospective, new works, and a participatory work that will be activated throughout the duration of the exhibition. This action by the public is intended to provoke a real encounter between two people, beyond the screen – to open the curtain and begin a sincere dialogue with the other and with oneself in order to undertake reconciliation.

Stanley Février lives and works in Longueuil; he has a degree in visual and media arts from UQAM. His conceptual practice is based on institutional critique, identity-related issues and violence, and the inequalities engendered by that violence.