John Massey

After Le Mépris

October 21 - November 20, 2010

Georgia Scherman Projects is pleased to announce her second solo show with John Massey, one of Canada’s foremost conceptual artists, featuring a new body of work titled After Le Mépris. This new suite of iconic and bittersweet photographs was inspired by the central scene in Jean Luc Godard’s 1963 film, Le Mépris (Contempt).

Massey is known for his metaphysical dramas, enacted in pristine, idealized architectural interiors that he treats like theatre sets. In this series, the interiors are modelled on the unfinished apartment in Rome where Godard set the pivotal scene of Le Mépris, which portrays a final breakdown of communication between the two lovers. Massey built a scale model of the apartment, shot each of its nine rooms, and configured his pictures with motifs from the film, including its strong primary colours and Mediterranean light. The apartment, in After Le Mépris, becomes a shrine to the scene from the film, its lost love and parting of ways, and also to larger farewells.

The picture entitled Red Curtain, with its ghostlike image of the lovers in the window, evokes this sense of things existing in the past or only in theory or memory. And in a sense, all the pictures in the series rely on such projection. The objects and images (the flowers, clothing, pillows and towels, mirrors and puddles, bright skies, amassed clouds, lights, reflections and shadows) have been placed in the rooms as projections into a story about what might happen next – regret, emptiness, solitude and wishful thinking but also hindsight, enlightenment and the return of optimism.

John Massey was born in Toronto in 1950. He has exhibited nationally and internationally since the early 1980s, venues including the Hamburger Bahnhof (Berlin), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), and the Frankfurter Kunstverein (Frankfurt). A survey show, “The House That Jack Built,” was curated by the National Gallery of Canada in 2004.