Karine Giboulo, Village Démocratie (Phase I) (detail), 2010, Polymere clay, acrylic, plexiglass and mixed materials.

Karine Giboulo and Olia Mishchenko: Habitaptation

April 15 to June 12, 2011

In Habitaptation, artists Karine Giboulo and Olia Mishchenko present new work examining the ways individuals interact with urban space. Whether these spaces are carefully planned or (d)evolve haphazardly, their humanity can be elusive, and their uses are difficult to predict. The artists draw attention to ideological concerns, gaps between vision and policy, and to the visceral realities of city life.

Montreal artist Giboulo’s sustained examination of migration, urbanization and consumerism has resulted in sculptural work, Village Démocratie. Colourful scenes depicting the daily lives of the urban poor in their shantytowns collide with opulent modernist architecture, where the rich and tyrannical play golf on the rooftop greens and members of the middle class relax on vacation. In her work, Giboulo probes the underbelly of globalization to find that the promise of economic prosperity comes at a cost for those who can least afford it.

Originally from Ukraine, Mishchenko is based in Toronto. Her intricate pen and ink drawings often look like blueprints for intuitive and illogical buildings, yet they speak more to individual resistance to the controlling characteristics of architecture. Here, in her remote university and Don Blanche series, Mishchenko considers the utopian intent of two experimental models for integrated and communal space. There is, she suggests, ongoing tension between the relative permanence of architecture and the transience of human desire.

The chaotic excess of improvised structures in Habitaptation implies displacement, but also the ingenuity of those who create personal spaces. In Saskatoon, a city facing an apparent economic boom and urban revitalization alongside a shortage of affordable housing, Habitaptation encourages dialogue about prosperity and dignity in the built environment and beyond.

Karine Giboulo wishes to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for its financial support.

Habitaptation is curated by Sandra Fraser, Associate Curator.