By Daniel Roy
Occurrence, espace d’art et d’essai contemporains, Montréal
14.01.2022 — 19.02.2022
Through his art practice, Michel Boulanger has developed a specific interest in industrial technologies and how they transform the agrarian landscape. His most recent animation video, Dans ces rangs de lignes pressées, presented at Occurrence, portrays the anxieties and turmoil of farm-machinery operator who questions the methods and aims of his trade. In this superbly drawn fictional world, Boulanger illustrates, through the young worker’s thoughts and actions, the loss of human contact with nature – nature whose exploitation is subjected to the logic of yields and productivity.
In the opening of this dark-toned black-and-white video, a shot of the sky reveals a luminous sphere behind the clouds. Is it day or night? Either perspective is plausible, as industrial agricultural production never stops. A synthetic voice informs the operator that the GPS has been programmed: “We will work within standards and we will play with time.” As the tractor sets forth into the field and deploys its harrows to fertilize the soil, the young man rejects his role, showing his resistance by executing a series of actions: he leaves the cockpit, runs through the rows of corn, sits on the nose of the vehicle, pretends he’s a tightrope walker on the hood. There’s no longer a question for him of toeing the line: “The end of this operation is not a destination.”…
Translated by Käthe Roth
[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 120 – FIGURES OF AFFIRMATION ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Michel Boulanger, Dans ces rangs de lignes pressées — Daniel Roy ]