Exhibitionists·In Residence

What's inside an alien? Craft supplies and Sculpey, it turns out

Geneviève Lebleu is this week's Exhibitionist in Residence. Watch "Kabane" and "Herbertisme."

Geneviève Lebleu is this week's Exhibitionist in Residence. Watch 'Kabane' and 'Herbertisme'

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a scream. Scene from "Kabane" by Geneviève Lebleu. (Courtesy of the artist)

The Fantastic Voyage, it's not. If anything, it's even trippier.

On the new CBC Arts: Exhibitionists, we're going inside a psychedelic, alien life-form, and Montreal artist Geneviève Lebleu is the captain on this animated ride.

"Kabane" is one of Lebleu's videos that we'll be airing on the program. Float merrily down a day-glo bloodstream! Chill gene-poolside with throbbing geometric forms! Dismembered hands! Fin-faced pals!

At least, that's what we think we're looking at.

"Usually people see things that are different from what I was trying to make," says Lebleu with a laugh. "I find it interesting to find out what people see."

But the film, which is a sort of collage of claymation — animated Sculpey creatures that the 27-year-old brings together in one crafty, green-screened universe — has some unmistakably anatomical vibes. And even if you can't imagine a swan swimming up an artery, then leave it to the soundtrack to suggest a sci-fi bodyworld.

I take a lot of inspiration from organs — the way I feel in my body. And I like to push the grotesque and organic.- Geneviève Lebleu, Exhibitionist in Residence

In both "Kabane" and "Herbertisme" — the other video appearing on the episode — Lebleu's mixed together a hum of organic sounds: heartbeats, pulsing water, the buzz of what may or may not be insect wings.

"I take a lot of inspiration from organs — the way I feel in my body," she says. "And I like to push the grotesque and organic. I try to make it beautiful, but in a way that's really uncomfortable and ridiculous. The characters are kind of goofy, but at the same time, I make them beautiful. I guess it's kind of a way of expressing tension."

Turns out those ugly-beautiful characters are a hallmark of all Lebleu's work. She's an illustrator and comics artist (she's currently working on a new issue of "Weeding," her self-published "sci-fi soap opera"). And she creates installations, too, which is how "Kabane" and "Herbertisme" actually came to be. (They were produced as part of collaborative projects with Montreal duo Penélopé et Chloë.)

"I do drawings and comic books and videos, but they always inform each other," she says. "I usually draw the characters that I animate and vice versa. It's one fantastical world that I explore through different mediums."


Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television, Friday nights at 11:30 p.m. (midnight NT) and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. (4 NT).


Leah Collins

Senior Writer

Since 2015, Leah Collins has been senior writer at CBC Arts, covering Canadian visual art and digital culture in addition to producing CBC Arts’ weekly newsletter (Hi, Art!), which was nominated for a Digital Publishing Award in 2021. A graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University's journalism school (formerly Ryerson), Leah covered music and celebrity for Postmedia before arriving at CBC.