Parables and Other Allegories
The Work of Melvin Charney, 1975-1990
This book documents a body of work that has previously been seen only in isolation, disclosing the concerns of an artist who perceives artistic, social, and political spheres as mutually related and interwoven.
Essays by Patricia Phillips, Phyllis Lambert, and Robert-Jan van Pelt Melvin Charney is an artist and architect from Montreal whose site-related installations, drawings, collages, and texts have raised questions and stimulated discussion on such topics as the nature of the city and the connections between the built environment and the world of ideas. This richly illustrated book documents a body of work that has previously been seen only in isolation, disclosing the concerns of an artist who perceives artistic, social, and political spheres as mutually related and interwoven. Much of Charney's early work, including Les Maisons de la rue Sherbrooke, A Chicago Construction, and A Toronto Construction, has been purposefully ephemeral. Moving in a different direction, several of his more recent projects, such as the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and The CCA Garden, are permanent and publicly accessible. Parables and Other Allegories offers a comprehensive historical record of Charney's work. Over 200 illustrations, including 95 color reproductions and 96 duotones, along with Charney's own commentary, provide a critical context for his oeuvre. An introduction by Alessandra, Latour, guest curator of the exhibition, and essays by Patricia C. Phillips and Robert-Jan van Pelt explore various aspects of his projects, among them the roles of collective memory and reiterative narrative as well as the harrowing, shamanic investigations of history and monumental evil in the German Series. An interview by Phyllis Lambert investigates how Charney approaches his work and considers a wide range of issues such as abstraction and representation, the notion of space, and the idea of process as meaning.