at Circuit 12 Contemporary
by Todd Camplin

Circuit 12 Contemporary's current show of Simon Bilodeau is black & white, and read
all over with meaning. You might think that Bilodeau is interested in binary comparisons
with his limited palette, but I see a very complex art show that plays with theatrics
and narrative.
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One element Bilodeau constantly brings to each show, is his past work. That is, his past work that
didn’t find homes during his shows are burned, then nicely repacked as ashes and stored in
shadow box frames. He labels the work as a record for each past show. Many Modernist declared
that the past should be burned and we should start fresh and new, but few had the guts to do
this to their own work. And I can’t think of a more fitting thing to do, for an artist that celebrates
dystopia. Circuit 12 Contemporary and Simon Bilodeau will end the show on October 12th.
Embedded in the far back wall is a mirror sculpture with grey painted rectangles as frames. This
work helped to draw me away from the center piece. It is pretty common to see a mirror piece at
art fairs or contemporary spaces these days, but Bilodeau’s doesn’t seem to use the mirror as
reflecting one’s image, but rather as an object that shimmers. With effort, I can see myself, but I
get the feeling the work isn’t about me putting myself into the work like so many other artists seem
to be implying. Rather, the mirror reflects light that gives the appearance of something valuable,
yet now commonplace.  On some of the walls are paintings with quiet geometric designs or purely
abstract shapes. One series is a study of a rock painted multiple times. I can’t help but think about
coal in these works. Not because my father was a coal miner, but I am sure that was a factor, but
rather Bilodeau’s black rock could be one of the reasons for the wasteland set in the middle of the
room. Coal, along with other fossil fuels are anything but clean. Because of fossil fuel consumption,
some climate models paint a very apocalyptic view of the future if we don’t make some fuel
consumption changes soon. I don’t know if Bilodeau really had this aspect in mind, but because
this issue is in zeitgeist, I can see how this angle could apply.

installation view

The giant girder with mirrored covered objects demands your immediate attention as you walk in the door.
So, I have to walk around and inspect this site-specific installation. These shiny objects among the simulated
decayed girders reminded of my trip to Turkey, visiting the Ottoman palaces. As the empire declined, the
Sultans continued to overspend in order to keep up appearances that the empire was wealthy. This only
hastened the end of the House of Osman. One could draw a similar parallel to the decline to infrastructure
in the United States while political spending has reached impressive numbers. Over and over again,
empires fall because the resources are squandered in the wrong places. Yet, the museums are filled with
the riches of these past civilizations that overspent their sustainability. Bilodeau’s work brought into focus
history and possible future outcomes.

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