Michelle Bui’s first solo exhibition with Parisian Laundry, Centerfold, presents a bouquet of colour prints. Adopting the formal conventions of commercial “packshot” photography, Bui’s work captures collisions between disparate objects that feel, in equal measure, familiar and alien. In these arrangements, the biological encounters the artificial against vibrant backdrops. Objects in Bui’s photos are presented earnestly. They make no attempt to conceal their composition or obscure their connotations. They are stark and plausibly vulnerable. Like the figures found in the creases of adult magazines, Bui’s unabashed displays bare all for their spectators.
Bui’s studio is abundant with products thoughtfully scavenged from her quotidian routines. She sources fresh tripe and packaged bar soap from local supermarket aisles, appropriating their likenesses in a gesture that disregards their suggested uses. Through this act of disobedience, Bui’s tactical retrievals address ways that artists and viewers alike are interpolated into broader patterns of late capitalism as consumers of both material goods and digital content.
Allusions to the body in Centerfold are plentiful. Bui’s perennial interest in the subject manifests through a blend of overt and symbolic references, with an emphasis on sensory embodiment. Juxtaposing tense material pairings against playful tactile backdrops, her images make space for ulterior desires — motivated less by market appeal than by the visceral pleasures they elicit. In effect, they trigger a gentle wave of sensory meridian response. At the same time, elements depicted in the Centerfold facilitate a kind of olfactory recall. The nostril-stinging fragrance of cheap soap and the bodily odours of a raw lamb’s liver remain suspended in the atmosphere of Bui’s two-dimensional works. Through its multisensory entanglements, Centerfold provides ample pathways for reminiscence, fostering connections for individuals to make sense of its perplexing imagery through their own engagement.
Text by Danica Pinteric
Originally from Montreal, Michelle Bui holds a BFA from Concordia University and an MFA from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Her work has been shown in several group exhibitions including Rêverie, Projet Pangée (Montréal, QC); Appareillage, Vu Photo (Québec, QC); Playlist, Galerie Antoine Ertaskiran (Montréal, QC); Coetus Floreus, Galerie Nicolas Robert (Montréal, QC). In 2018, she presented her first solo exhibition, Pool of Plenty, at Galerie de l’UQAM. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at Circa (Montréal, QC) and group shows at Maison de la culture Claude-Léveillée (Montréal, QC), and at Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University (Newark, NJ).
Michelle Bui would like would like to thank Canada Arts Council and the Conseil des arts du Québec for their generous support.