Montreal native and queen of carbs, artist Chloe Wise returned home for the opening of her solo exhibit Pissing, Shmoozing and Looking Away at Galerie Division. The exhibit focused mainly on Wise’s sandwich and breakfast food designer bags series that includes pieces such as “Moschino English Muffin,” “Bagel and Locks,” and “Ain’t No Challah Back (Pack) Girl.” In her hometown, it was no surprise that the exhibit’s opening was packed with fans, fellow artists and friends alike. While guests admired the carb-heavy art on the wall, waiters circulated the gallery, serving real sandwiches.
The exhibit features Wise’s signature bread bag sculptures, other breakfast sculptures, painting, video and two memorable “designer” fetish chairs. Her use of humour is entertaining but also provides intuitive commentary on collective consumption and desire as commodity. The crowd seemed to really gravitate to Wise’s video installation titled “Offer Ending Soon!” a 15 minute exaggerated commercial of models advertising god knows what. Wise told us that the script is comprised of a Cheesecake Factory menu and Scientology course reviews. This type of parody draws attention to celebrity culture, the meaningless nature of trends, and acts as a reinforcement of the exhibit’s message.
The Concordia University graduate gained prominence as an artist when actress India Menuez wore her “Bagel No. 5,” a purse complete with the signature Chanel logo charm and fooled everyone at an actual Chanel event. Wise also draws on her Jewish background with pieces such as “Seder Masochism” and “Matzochism Paddle” which call into question the links between religion, identity, and art.
Wise is successful in her critiques and displaying her artistic talent; the food looks incredibly real but at the same time it doesn’t make you hungry, it makes you think. Her art may call attention to some greater societal issues, but she does so in a way that does not totally remove or disorient the viewer. The exhibit is so aesthetically pleasing and subversive that it allows individuals to appreciate each piece through their unique interpretations.
The emptiness of carbs and the superficiality of designer goods, make us question what really fulfills us, and even provides us with the answer: artistic expression. Sure, we live in a culture of excess and sometimes empty meaning, but Chloe Wise has found the ideal reaction with humour in art.