Ben Schumacher

Telephone & Telegraph, 2016
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

Our dependence on communications technologies seems exponential today as well as coextensive with the surges of globalization. The use of telegraph cables in Ben Schumacher’s recent work makes implicit reference to these issues by focusing on the physical infrastructure needed to transmit information, which is always susceptible to becoming obsolete. The installation Telephone & Telegraph presents a wall structure outlined in metal, reminiscent of a hotel sign. In the centre stands a world globe, with a cord wrapped around it at the midline between the two hemispheres. Like a belt holding in the curves of a round body, this cord conjures up a certain anthropomorphism. With its shape similar to telegraph cable, it further alludes to an objectifying perception of the planet, as matter and as resource.

Next to it, on the floor, telegraph cables sketch out a heart. Beyond their utilitarian function, these disused objects demand to be viewed as more than mere artifacts. Rather, they refer to humans’ desire to map the world from both a cognitive and an emotive perspective, by breaking open the boundaries that separate the physical and material world from that of psychology and sensibility.