The Toronto duo has collaborated since 2002. They first made their mark on the local art scene with sculptures constructed mainly out of materials purchased at Ikea and Home Depot; these pieces echoed a lofty minimalist aesthetic akin to modernist titans like Donald Judd. Since then, their work has tapped the idealism of mid-century modernism’s design-for-the-masses ethos.
They have also ventured into public installations. In 2007, they built a jungle gym for a community park in Scarborough, Ontario. While it’s made of standard steel components, the playground’s super-sized shape and colour – cobalt blue – are radically different from the usual jungle gym. It features nine elevated platforms accessed by ladders and interconnected by bridges and tunnels for kids to crawl through.
More recent works include the film 50 Light Fixtures from Home Depot. As its title suggests, this work presents the light emanating from ceiling fixtures purchased at the hardware store and installed within an empty room. One after another, each light is shown in 10-second intervals, a sequence that is both banal and mesmerizing, as each light’s particular qualities and intensity gets played out.
In winning the $50,000 annual Sobey Art Award for Canadian artists under 40, Young and Giroux (who are represented by Diaz Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto) beat out five other shortlisted artists from across the country, including multimedia artists Charles Stankievech and Manon De Pauw, photographer Sarah Anne Johnson and Zeke Moores, who casts such functional objects as port-o-potties out of polished metals.
The awards exhibition, which includes works by all the finalists, is on view at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax until January 8, 2012.