Our time at the Tallgrass residency came just after installing a solo exhibition entitled, Look, it’s daybreak, dear, time to sing, presented at the Ulrich Museum of Art, in Wichita from August 19 – December 4, 2021.

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, What Birds Talk About When They Talk, 2021. Installation, Ulrich Museum of Art. 26:28.

The challenges of being withcommunicating with and cohabitating with others are the core of the works we have created for the exhibition

In thinking about the entanglement of ways of life between species, and specifically birds and humans, we wanted to explore our place in, and responsibility for a shared world.

In our discussions with Sylvie Fortin, the curator of this exhibition, we reflected on our relationships with birds through the lens of “hospitality.” That is, the ways in which other species are made welcome – or not – in the places that we call our own.

One of the fundamental elements of this cohabitation is our relationship to the land. How, what we often call territories, are conceived, inhabited, shared, exploited and delimited. 

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, Sales Volume of the 10 Top Meat Processing Companies, 2019. Installation, Bemis Centre for Contemporary Art.
Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, Community Toolshed for the Birds, 2021. Installation, Ulrich Museum of Art.

The massive intensification of agriculture of the past century is grounded in an assumed entitlement to the world that has justified the transformation and destruction of environments. It is anchored in a logic that binds together the abstraction and appropriation of the world.

In this model, everything that is nonhuman – and often even humans – are considered as a potential economic resource.

Here land is defined as something that can be owned privately, and as an asset that can be exploited and speculated upon. It is considered exclusively from the perspective of human usage without consideration for other beings. This presents ethical problems, but increasingly these ethical problems are morphing into more fundamental problems of sustainability and even survival.

While we wanted to explore the dominant forces that shape our cohabitation with others, we were also interested in exploring practices and relations that offer an opening into better modes of living with. These relations are rarely simple or purely harmonious. 

Marilou Lemmens & Cindy Hoedel on a Boonie Cruise. 2021.

Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens’ collaborative practice combines a concise approach to the form and construction of the art object with a desire to make ideas visible. For several years, they have examined the history of science and other forms of knowledge, including the language of economy, the magic of statistics, the capacity for models to impact the future, the aesthetics of data visualization, and the design of laboratory experiments. Their work tends toward the re-sensualisation of abstractions through objects and actions. 

Recent solo exhibitions include the Grantham Foundation for the Arts and the Environment, Saint-Edmond-de-Grantham, Canada (2020-21), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, USA (2019), VOLT, Visningsrommet USF Gallery, Bergen (2019), Audian Gallery, Vancouver (2018), Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Canada (2017), Jane Lombard Gallery, New York (2017), International Studio & Curatorial Program, New York (2016), Esker Foundation, Calgary (2016), and Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal (2016). 

Ibghy & Lemmens have participated in group exhibitions including Fiskars Biennale, Finland (2019), OFF-Biennale, Budapest (2017), Bienal de Cuenca, Cuenca Ecuador (2016), Istanbul Biennial (2015), La Biennale de Montréal (2014), Manif d’art: Quebec City Biennial (2014), and Sharjah Biennial (2011). They have realised site-specific commissions in Sharjah and Zurich, and, in 2021, they installed a permanent public artwork in Montreal. In 2020, they received the Grantham Foundation’s Grand Prize for Research and, in 2019, the Giverny Capital Prize. They live in Durham-Sud, Canada.