The Shape of Obus: Shannon Bool
Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna, BC - To Jun 18
Le Corbusier (1887-1965) was a pioneer of modern architecture, a leader of the International Style whose motifs (i.e., narrow columns, ribbon windows) remain with us today. Like many early moderns, his ideas extend beyond his discipline, beyond the buildings we live in to include the cities we negotiate in our everyday lives. Among his most ambitious urban designs is the unrealized Plan Obus (1931-42), an attempt to turn Algiers into a post-colonial city, an African world capital. It is Le Corbusier’s earnest though ultimately ethnocentric effort that Shannon Bool has both explored and reshaped.
Using textiles, sculptures, painting, collage and photography, Bool presents a critical reevaluation – if not a reconstitution – of Le Corbusierian space through a feminist perspective. However, in the words of curator Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre, “Instead of examining the exterior forms of buildings, Bool redirects focus to the interior, confronting misogynistic debates towards craft as a legitimate form of art.”
An exemplary work is Women in Their Apartment (2019), a computer-built collage Bool had woven into a wall-mounted tapestry. Based on a Delacroix painting of an Algerian harem, the collage has elements comprised of sources and associations that range from Le Corbusier’s inclusion of erotic drawings in his building designs to Picasso’s “cartoonish” preliminary sketches for his Delacroix-inspired Les Femmes d’Alger series (1954-55), from Le Corbusier’s open bath in his Villa Savoye to Bool’s discovery (as conveyed in an Agnes Etherington Art Centre online talk from 2021) that a viral picture of Kim Kardashian’s derrière “fit like a glove” when laid over one of Picasso’s sketches, after which she concluded, “Okay, there’s some lineage happening here.”