A Little Bit of Whimsy

The Poupart Gallery Explores Space Within Space

You might not spend much time thinking about it, but gallery space for an exhibit is a crucial element for both curator and artist.

The default gallery space seems to be well lit with white walls, but whatever setting the art is presented in will affect how the audience will perceive the work. Derived from poupée—the French word for doll—the Poupart Gallery is literally miniature, housed within a dollhouse.

“I got the idea when I was doing an undergrad in art history and researching alternative gallery spaces,” said Lianne Zannier, the gallery’s curator.

“I read an article called ‘My Own Private MOMA’ by Marc Valli [where] he talks about the particular viewing experience you have in larger galleries along with the very specific narratives they create,” she explained.

“The Poupart Gallery comes out of this desire for a different experience.” In addition to space, the gallery also deals with issues of scale. Since the gallery is miniature, the artworks exhibited also have to play within those parameters.

“The Poupart Gallery aims at playing with nostalgia, narrative and the potential for miniatures to be both big and small at the same time,” said Zannier. “The goal is to manipulate those concepts. It’s part curatorial and part collaboration between myself, the artists and the space.”

As an animator, Zannier also plays with these themes regularly in her own work. “In animation, you make worlds, establish the laws of gravity and manipulate the scale of both the world itself and the objects within it,” she explained.

“The dollhouse is completely self-contained. It could be in a host gallery—as it is at the Coatcheck Gallery for Art Matters—or it could be set up in the woods. It is an ongoing project.”

For Zannier, the dollhouse itself is more than just an exhibit, as it has a history with the St. Henri neighbourhood where the gallery will be featured during Art Matters.

“I purchased the house in St. Henri from Jean Gilbert, who has a storage [space] where he holds perpetual yard sales all summer long. What is particular about this is that Gilbert is a collector of antiques along with memorabilia from St. Henri,” explained Zannier.

“Inside his space he has the streetcar used in the film Bonheur d’occasion based off the book by Gabrielle Roy about St. Henri. He also has full stained-glass panels from the original church that used to be in the neighbourhood. Pretty amazing, really.”

Zannier renovated the dollhouse herself, and it will be home to nine artists, working within the mediums of animation, print and ceramics.

The Poupart Gallery / Coatcheck (5180 Notre Dame St. W.) / March 9 to 12 / Vernissage / March 9 / 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. more info

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