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  • Trevor Gould
    Trevor Gould

One might potentially visit this exhibition, walk around the imposing full-scale sculpture of an African buffalo in the middle of the room, look at the accompanying watercolours and conclude that the animal is indeed dead. End of story. But this description is much too simplistic to fully grasp Trevor Gould’s Talking to Death: An Allegory for Sculpture. For years, Gould has been fascinated with Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s fresco Apollo and the Continents (1752–1753). In this historical work, as in the work presented here at CLARK, there are references to the Greek myth of Europa, whose moniker was used to name the continent we know today.[1] Out of this myth grew a mission to populate other territories “in memory of the one who, from her distant Phoenicia, had willingly ventured to parts unknown. The Ancients named one of the four parts of the world ‘Europe’ and dedicated a cult to her, while her brothers, in search of her, founded colonies.”[2] Colonization results as much from the exploitation and domination of a territory as from the implementation of inequality between settlers and indigenous people from that territory. Gould, who is originally from South Africa, speaks as much about the past and present experiences in his home country as he does about what is happening here and in any territory marked by all forms of supremacy (economic, social, military, cultural, etc.).

Talking to Death is written in black on white on one of the gallery walls. To talk to death is to be confronted by it. How many deaths have there been over the centuries, how many populations have been decimated, relocated, oppressed, silenced? The buffalo, lying motionless on its side, symbolizes both the death of people who have suffered and continue to suffer the effects of colonialism. It also symbolizes the fate of animals, more specifically in Africa where sport hunting is practiced by a tiny percentage of the world’s population—wealthy people for whom these trophies are a source of pride. They kill not to survive, but to impose their social status onto the world. Many images on the Internet bear witness to this ostentatious practice. They are systems of decadence and indecency set in place to dominate the vulnerable. In this exhibition, Gould presents a rather bleak view of the world of yesterday and today.

- Manon Tourigny (translation by Jo-Anne Balcaen)


[1] The main story behind the myth is that Zeus, having been transformed into a white ox with golden horns, abducted the princess and carried her away to another city.

[2] Joël Schmidt, Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine, Paris, Larousse, 1991, p.122.

Trevor Gould was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and lives and works in Montreal where he taught sculpture at Concordia University from 1989 to 2017. In 2003, he was the Stiftungs Professor at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main in Germany (Offenbach University of Art and Design). Gould has a diploma in art from the Johannesburg College of Art and an MA in contemporary Canadian sculpture from Carleton University in Ottawa. His work has been exhibited nationally (Montreal, Quebec, Regina) and internationally (France, Luxembourg, South Africa, Italy), and he has created public art works in Germany, Canada, and most recently in France with the permanent installation of the Pavillon d’Hannibal, inaugurated at Le Vernet, Provence, in 2014. His work is included in several private and museum collections in Canada, Poland, Italy, France, and Germany. Gould is represented by Galerie Hugues Charbonneau in Montreal, and by Galerie Arte Giani, in Frankfurt.

Room 1
  • Trevor Gould
Talking to Death : An Allegory for Sculpture