Annette Lemieux

Hobo Jungle was created by Annette Lemieux for her solo exhibition at the Castello di Rivoli in December 1992.
The work links the general theme of war to the particular history of the exhibition site. The inspiration for this work comes from a photograph depicting the third floor of the Castello, which was partially destroyed by bombing during World War II. In the black-and-white image, three soldiers, equipped with buckets, seem to be looking for something amid the ruins of the burned roof, which has imploded and fallen to the floor. Using this dramatic reproduction of a real event, Lemieux applied to a reproduction of the photograph circular scraps of colored fabric printed with stars and other decorations, which appear to fall inside the room from the opening in the ceiling. This simple intervention distorts the obvious original significance of the image. As worked on by Lemieux, the photograph becomes deliberately ambiguous and seems almost to depict three soldiers who, with their buckets, are trying to gather colored spheres that have rained down from the sky. The atmosphere of the scene becomes strangely magical, almost Fellini-like. In front of the photograph the artist has placed two cushions from an old armchair, which are torn and discolored as if they too had been recovered from the bombing. As the title indicates, the work associates tragedies linked to the war with allusions to contemporary reality, such as the homeless population. The chair cushions, in fact, bring to mind the dramatic reuse of the throwaways of consumer society, and they transcend the original photographic image’s historical reference to the war. Signs of abandonment become signs of life, more precisely, a desire for life, like the colored forms that tumble from the hole in the roof.
The use of preexisting images and objects, inserted into new contexts and combinations in order to create unexpected meanings is a practice that has characterized Lemieux ’s work since the 1980s.The artist has often employed images or objects relating to World War II, critically confronting dramatic themes pertaining to that conflict. Fragments of the social history of her country, or of the entire world, appear in her works, together with personal memories from childhood. These signify that an inner state and external reality are not two opposing worlds, but a single dimension that, for the artist, becomes operative in the name of her social responsibility.