This curatorial introduction by Bruce Grenville appears in Scrutiny, a catalogue published by YYZ Gallery in Toronto.
Scrutiny proposes to acknowledge the work of a group of artists who seek to avoid the traditional systems of logic and closure which are fundamental to the act of representation. Each ot these artists places an extraordinary emphasis on the process ot their work’s production. In each instance, we are witness to an extended body of work developed over a long period of time. As viewers, we are unable to see a logical conclusion to the work, to see in it a fully formed object which we might use as a model to recuperate our own fragmented sense of subjecthood. At the lowest threshold of interpretation the work in this exhibition posits a sensibility similar to that proposed by Gustave Flaubert in his novel Bouvard and Pecuchet. Like Bouvard and Pecuchet, these artists seem to have engaged in an impossible project whose rewards are entirely disproportionate to the demands made on them. As viewers, we may find the work embarrassing in its grandiose scope, absurd in its intent, or perhaps simply superfluous. However, we must understand that this sense ot superfluity, absurdity and embarrassment arises only out of the tact that the work does not produce a traditional subject-object relationship. In all of this work, a performative process has been substituted for the creation of a unified subject. That is to say, it is the act ot scrutiny rather than the work’s content that is most important here.
© 1988 Bruce Grenville and YYZ Gallery