Risks are the Rule

Catalog essay for the exhibition MAGALIE GUÉRIN bunker by Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago, 2018.

2 min read

Risks are the rule in Magalie’s fuzzy logic of the once two dimensional now cut into, grooved surface here. Every texture you’ve felt or seen behind closed lids is fair game. Bodies are pushed down by objects yelping in wry aquiencence. There is no self and other, no ground and heaven; just strange boundaries producing narratives that test corporeal confines through a play-dough realism. Grey matter bloomed orange to rattle and knock chafing sensibilities. An adorable straightjacket to politely force and tease the imagination against its edges.

The creator of this conundrum, no less victim to it: unsettled on the title “BUNKER,” possibly. maybe. A bunker is supposed to keep you safe, evidence of a paranoia well planned. But this one includes a wink that eats its children: a destructive promise, a drunk Uranus.

DEBUNK; to expose as false

BUNK; false

BUNKER; the falsifier

A tricked-out safe room with a built-in psyche. Windows with views of plasticine romantic dripping pollution sunsets. Colors made more beautiful in their departure from nature, producing guilty pleasures ridden with perversity. We “shouldn’t" be turned on by these aberrations, yet Magalie playfully asks, “Do you have the appetite for the absurdity of living in a body on earth today?”

Negotiations and relations: the chair bends to the chair, in a frozen tango move, gazes inter-fixed. Glazes with gazes that bend and wilt. Non-human wills on display, they wince, wrench and wring, (the w can really do a number on your heart.) The story seeks itself in transitions— evasive, pleading still.

To get at MG’s painting, I went to the store to buy a box of Nerds, the candy. Thin cardboard box, with a divider between pink and purple cleverly cut into slidable windows allowing alternating cascades of color. I probably grew up to fetishize cardboard because I’d already had my mouth all over it. The allure of that sog.

When the misshapen animated blobs pour out of the hole onto your tongue it’s a reverse tooth brushing: crunching sugar bits between molars on purpose. Less carbonated than pop-rocks, the explosions taste bright. Neon, in fact, sour-sweet and artificial. How they break: oral, spatial, irregular, and how they rattle against the box. Organic shapes— something bodies would create, hot pink coated gall stones and white which peeks through creases to offer some humanity.

Captives with feet and googly eyes, The sheer number of them ignites the imagination. Hordes of tiny representatives from a technicolor world. Boxed in rigid walls, the excess of multitudinous surfaces rubbing, bumping each other. Getting stuck in the crack of the hand, the tooth, the couch: giant-making and perspective messing, setting a difficult rationale for cute things to be eaten. Confront the desire to be devoured like bit or blob, one among many, the relief of meaninglessness. We become both eater and nerd.

The organ of the Imagination bleeds like this. It is a practice of taking risks in your mind. Without its use, you cannot have courage, which is the practice of taking risks in the world. The magic trick of MG’s science is building the box (or the bunker) that allows the risk to produce the courage.

The possibility of escape remains open by the impartial Wonka-esque creator of the paintings. Windows abound, but whether they lead to esophagus or freedom is anyone’s guess. Debunked is our notion of reality, of safety, of physics, psychology and biology. We may tumble out of the box to certain death but in MG’s world of pure imagination, we are certain to enjoy the ride.