Tag Archive for: Musée d’art contemporain


Studiolo: The Collaborative Work of Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe, a major retrospective exhibition and accompanying book (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Artextes Editions and Art Gallery of Windsor, 1997-1998)


Covering all of our large scale site-specific work to date, Studiolo charted — as book and as exhibition — the overarching vision of these projects and the links between them along lines of leitmotifs and major pre-occupations.  From the explorations of public service and urban fabric in Projet Building / Caserne #14 to the ‘history of the body’ that was Le Musée des Sciences and the origins of museums that we had examined in The Wilds and The Deep and beyond, Studiolo gave us an opportunity to reflect on a singular practice that was at its core collaborative.  

Here is the artists’ statement from the Montréal version of the exhibition:

Studiolo is a project in and of itself. Its very subject is our work, which the public knows as a series of projects that punctuate what is, for us, a rich continuum. We wish to give those who have visited our site works — as well as those who have not — a sense of the seamlessness with which we ourselves experience the long and fruitful collaboration that we two have had to date. In purposely leaving open the vast volumes of two of the MACM’s exhibition rooms, we remind visitors of the huge spaces in which we have worked. Creating clusters of similar objects and counter-pointed images from widely differing projects, we also form intimate zones of reflection on the many threads which weave together our artistic practice. Most of the artworks which remain after one of our projects has been completed are those which were made or gathered together in the studio, created in a fertile research period before we even inhabit a site with which the public will always associate one or the other of our projects. These works, unlike those which we make as part of the buildings themselves, often return to the studio when the project is over. There, they become integrated into a living visual continuity; fragments of all the projects exist together side by side for us two in our home, creating new constellations of meaning, and revealing over time the formal, visual and ideological links between projects. This evocation is the message of Studiolo. Already resonant with the memory of each site project, each object also participates now anew in revealing to the public the artists’ view of our own work.

At the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the curator who brought the exhibition into being was Gilles Godmer; at the Art Gallery of Windsor, it was Helga Pakasaar. The show brought together work from private and public art collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Le Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Brown University Art Museum, and others.


Studiolo the book was already underway as a major publication project when the idea of an exhibition was formed: it was Lesley Johnstone, then Director of Publications at Artextes Editions, who had come to us early in the 1990s with a book proposal.  Her vision and tenacity were essential to the book’s success, as was its designer, EA Hobart of Zab Design and Typography, who collaborated closely with us — literally page by page.

This is the flyleaf text:

The large-scale building projects of artists Martha Fleming & Lyne Lapointe are legendary in certain circles. And yet, because of the independent nature of their production, a comprehensive overview of this seminal work has not yet been published. This book fills that gap.

A document, a bookwork, a manifesto, Studiolo explores the extensive and varied creative process of this collaborative pair. It covers not only the site works produced for entire abandoned buildings in Montréal and New York City, but also the discursive underpinnings of their fifteen-year practice. The artists’ image research and aesthetic are part and parcel of showing and telling in Studiolo — itself a work of art.

Divided into two sections, the first half of the book is a lyrical docu-fiction by Martha Fleming in which key fragments of the artists’ experiences are offered as clues for the reader. The second half is composed of extensive conversations between Fleming, Lyne Lapointe, and Lesley Johnstone, Montréal critic and curator and the Director of Artextes Editions. Leitmotifs of the projects and links between them, their conditions of production, and the relationship the artists establish with their audience are all addressed in this wide ranging section. Over one hundred photographs of five major projects are reproduced for the first time, many in colour.

Lively, moving and visually stimulating, Studiolo is an essential chapter in an underground history of contemporary art and community activism.



Further Links:  Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Art Gallery of Windsor; Studiolo; Artexte; Zab Design and Typography

[Image References: Studiolo, an exhibition by Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe, as installed at Le Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (1998) photographed by Richard Max Tremblay; pages from the book Studiolo (Fleming, Johnstone, Lapointe: Artextes Editions, 1997) designed by EA Hobart of Zab Design and Typography; the cover of the book Studiolo incorporated the photograph Four Girls Laughing, by Frank Cooke (1905) Courtesy of the Public Record Office of Great Britain]

Introduction & Index

Introduction & Index, silkscreened translucent banners and artists’ bookwork (1994): Printed Matter (New York); Artexte@MACM (Montreal); Bath Public Library (UK); Ridington Room, University of British Columbia (Vancouver), C Magazine (Toronto)


A meditation on censorship and the power of print, and on the editorial apparatus as a constraining device with a complex subtext, this work was originally conceived as part of the project The Spirit and the Letter and the Evil Eye (with Lyne Lapointe, Bath, 1994).  As a limited edition set of banners, it was shown in multiple venues in Canada and the UK through 1994.  As an artists’ bookwork, it was published that year in C Magazine, with ‘Introduction’ being the first page of the magazine, and ‘Index’ the last page.

The ‘introduction’ at the beginning of a book and the ‘index’ at the end are conventions which help us navigate both the text and the ‘body’ of a book, and which define at one and the same time the spatial and the intellectual ‘lie of the land’ between the covers.  They are also redolent of sensory experiences of handling and manipulating the book itself: the ‘introduction’ is a physical way in – a threshold – and the ‘index’ that cuts through the book’s text by subject can also refer to the finger turning the pages.

As all knowledge is powerful, powers over it are carefully managed: Index is also the short-form title for the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of books either censored or banned by the Catholic Church.  This list was active from 1559 to 1966, created as a direct result of the advent of the printing press, and the consequences of reading and circulating materials which appeared on it were at no time more draconian than during the Inquisition.

This was one of a series of works, large and small, that I made during this period using translucency in a two-dimensional format as a way of creating depth of field, relational structure and comparison between two discrete line images. Another example of these conceptual print projects is Metaphysical Subject, commissioned by the Laboratory at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art for the British Journal for the History of Science (1998).

What was particular about Introduction & Index was that it drew thoughts about book and print culture and convention together with the media of printing and publishing itself.  In a sense, the banners are as much bookworks as was the publication of the work in C Magazine, and both versions are spatial as well as graphic.

It was Julie Ault and Doug Ashford who invited us to display the banners at Printed Matter; Lesley Johnstone who invited us to display them at Artexte when it ran the bookshop for the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Antonia Payne and Angela Kingston in Bath; and Scott Watson in Vancouver.  Marie Fraser, then Montréal Editor of C Magazine, curated Introduction & Index into the publication.



Further Links:  Printed Matter New York; Artexte; C Magazine

[Image References: all images are of Introduction & Index, by Martha Fleming and Lyne Lapointe (1994)]