Body Building is a sculpture with a brick base holding up a large colour photograph of the artist’s eye. Along the eyebrow are placed eight Montreal buildings modeled in butter, a perishable material sensitive to touch and temperature. As the exhibition progressed, the buildings sagged and collapsed under the heat of the gallery lights.
This work was produced following a risky BASE jump the artist made off a downtown office building around the time of the exhibition. The jump was a personal challenge, a “bucket list” act: walking to the edge and finding the courage to jump. It was done in secret, in the night, alone, without a camera or audience to record the event. So, when the artist was offered a show two weeks before the opening, the solitary but highly significant event became a natural focus as he quickly put together a work to exhibit.
Bodybuilding proposes a mix of symbolic references related to the subversive transformation of the corporate icon of an office building into a personal diving: the brick base evokes the solidity and power of architecture but is contradicted by the soft and unviable butter buildings; the eye of the artist, bigger than life, is the base for the buildings that are radically reduced in scale, the eye is not all-seeing but rather just a flat landscape for the unlikely structures that end up impeding its vision.
Body Building reflects the artist’s conflict filled relationship to both the material art object and the documentary nature of photography. In the end, it was a strange monument, commemorating an experience the artist could only allude to at the time in a cryptic statement written for the show. It was a monument to a remarkable act that went on to become central to the artist’s own oral history.