In William Gibson’s short story ‘The Gernsback Continuum,’ a photographer is commissioned to document futuristic American architecture from the 1930s, only to find himself haunted by semiotic ghosts, bits of deep cultural imagery that have split off and taken on a life of their own. These spectres pursue him as he experiences hallucinations of a lost and perverted future, of a utopia that never came to be—movie marquees, fluted aluminum, chrome-tube chairs, white marble and burnished bronze collecting dust. In the continuum, there is no end, only an infinite feedback loop: infinite chaos, decay, and regeneration.
For over a decade, artist Glen LeMesurier has been occupying an abandoned industrial lot in Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood, gradually filling the space with imposing iron sculptures made with found scrap metal. Like a guerrilla gardener, LeMesurier spontaneously plants his works throughout the otherwise desolate lot, alongside chestnut trees, lilac trees and white sweetclover, symbolically and literally purifying the soil. LeMesurier’s illegal occupation of the site led the city to designate it as a protected green space, the Twilight Sculpture Garden. Walking through the garden or sitting on one of its wrought iron benches is to be presented with secret ruins such as those in Gibson’s Continuum: hard evidence of the human near-dystopia we live in, a utopian restructuring of industrial waste.
By nature, the sculpture garden is an open space that invites experimentation and contemplation, that blurs the lines between growth and decay. In this context, sixteen artists have been invited to occupy the lot while considering its connection to Gibson’s short story: the legacy of modernity, the spoils of late capitalism, the fragments of raw technological enthusiasm. The works presented in the exhibition are their own semiotic ghosts—a cell phone made of incense, a plastic bottle with lancet arches, a cultural icon immortalized in clay.