Identity Today: Tous décavés, Isabelle Le Minh at SBC Gallery

Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal
SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art | space 507
Isabelle Le Minh
Tous décavés
September 10 – October 17, 2015
www.sbcgallery.ca

This is no longer the digital age, the information age, or any other bygone term we have tucked away into our box of landline telephones, bookstores and handwritten letters. Rather, this is the age of a desperation to transmit every aspect of our lives through a screen, to preserve it in something totally public and totally intangible.

Le Minh modernises and interprets the work of late 19th century biometrics researcher Alphonse Bertillon, inventor of an identification system based on physicalities and the mug shot, as well as the bodily impressions of Yves Klein.

For “Anthropometrié sans titre,” 1961, Klein covered nude models in paint and instructed them to drag and press their bodies across the canvas. In Le Minh’s “Digitométrie, After Yves Klein,” the blown-up impressions of dragged fingerprints in a soft purple hue lose the sensuality and spontaneity felt in Klein’s piece, replaced by a lonely image of an iPad screen that needs cleaning. Yet is there not beauty in the sweeping brushstrokes and unique pattern of our own skin? We are making our mark on the world, no matter the surface.

Le Minh draws from Bertillon with her collection of facial features and profiles, pieces of people taken from Facebook. The repetition and fragmentation strips identities, a raised eyebrow or lip curl only offering up hints, and the work becomes as curiously addictive as the scanning and clicking of the website itself.

Tous décavés propels an examination of our own interactions with technology and identity. Part of Le Minh’s show includes colorful, supersized QR codes entombed in plexiglass. Viewers are encouraged to take out their smartphones in order to decipher the works’ messages, but, as Le Minh may have anticipated, chances are they already were. This piece, and ultimately the show, forces a nervous but necessary ‘what does this say about who we are?


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