Winnipeg Free Press (1995.009.1-7), 2020, Padding foam, metal armature, non-woven polyethylene, 118 x 51 x 35 cm

This padded sculpture uses the same technique as Pierre Ayot’s silkscreened fabric works from the late 1970s. It also playfully alludes to some of the original series’ codes, including pop culture references and the simulation of their original contextual placement within a space. Representing a newspaper stand made of non-woven polyethylene (Tyvek), the sculpture completes the piece from the MAJ collection by providing a context for the distribution of Ayot’s stack of daily newspapers.

On October 6, 2020, at 9:40 p.m., Karine Boivin, Museology Technician, sent Chloé Desjardins a description of the object 1995.009.1-7.

The object I have chosen seems banal. From a distance, it looks like a pile of newspapers, left at the corner store at five in the morning. It’s an amusing trompe-l’oeil, whose presence in the collections seemed incongruous at first glance. When you pay closer attention and approach it, you realize that the paper is not really paper but tightly woven fibre. Pierre Ayot created this work, titled Winnipeg Free Press, in 1981. Like in a newspaper, the text is printed in black ink, and the title and subtitles in blue ink, but on cotton. The whole thing is stitched and padded to look like a pile of newspapers. The corners have been carefully rounded at random, and the overlays are perfectly off centre. Not too much, just enough. Its dimensions are also realistic—approximately 60 cm high, 40 cm wide, and 33 cm deep.

On the “front page,” we see the title of the newspaper, Winnipeg Free Press, in blue, between two wide blue lines. At the top are six small columns of text. The fifth column is the one with the most visible content: “Election ’81” in blue. Below the headline is a low-resolution black-and-white photograph, like those in newspapers of the time. It occupies the lower left quarter of the page and shows an excavator digging a hole and a few workers around it, watching it work.

In fact, the object I have chosen is far from insignificant, as much effort was put into concealing the labour behind this piece. I perceive my profession, museum technician, to be like this work. If I do my job well, (almost) nothing shows. I take care of collections that are carefully stored in storage rooms that are dark and inaccessible, nonexistent for most visitors. I highlight the objects in the collections and the work of the artists by erasing as much as possible the traces of my gestures. My plinths and supports blend into the background, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Like this artist, I put a lot of energy into making the result of my work “look like nothing.”

Pierre Ayot, Winnipeg Free Press, 1981, Serigraph on cotton sewn, stuffed and assembled, 59 x 40 x 12,5 cm

Collection of Musée d’art de Joliette. Donation Maurice Forget. 1995.009.1-7