an investigative photo documentary

Exclusive 24-page photo essay from our investigative journalist team in collaboration with award-winning photojournalist Johan Hallberg-Campbell. Location: Toronto, Canada Copyright Wondereur 2021.

MEET with artist Micah Lexier curated by international design guru Bruce Mau.

Lexier 1
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I NEVER COULD DRAW BUT I’VE LEARNED OVER TIME THAT I’M REALLY GOOD AT SEEING THINGS.
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I can find something interesting in the garbage one day, cut it out, bring it home, put it in a box under a specific category with information on where and how I found it. It doesn’t seem foreign or strange at all to me.
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TO ME, ANY OBJECT IS AN ARTWORK.
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I’m sure there’s a big German word for it out there: this idea that every aspect of everything is somehow artfully done. It’s something I learned from my parents.
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My parents designed their own home in Winnipeg and built it. When Frank Gehry first started making furniture, they bought a Frank Gehry piece. We had an early Noguchi lamp that was so uncharacteristic of Noguchi. All the furniture in our house was like Eames and Knoll.
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EVERYTHING WAS DESIGNED. EVERYTHING WAS INTENTIONAL, UP TO THE CUTLERY AND CEREAL BOWLS.
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I WAS ALWAYS ATTRACTED TO FOUND THINGS.
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Actually, almost everything I do is done in collaboration with someone else.
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THE FIRST THING I COLLECTED WAS FAULTY KEYS.
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I was at the mall one day and I noticed that key-cutting kiosks made a lot of mistakes when cutting keys. I didn’t know that, I thought the keys always worked.
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Coloured keys were all the rage at the time. I started to pick up the ‘faulty’ ones at the end of the day. I kept them in a turquoise tool chest I got as a reward for having perfect attendance at school.
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Then I started to collect information, keeping records of things I did. At some point, when I was living in New York and things weren’t going well, I kept a list of all the rejection letters I received.
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IT TURNED THINGS AROUND. I STARTED TO LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEXT REJECTION LETTER TO ADD IT TO THE LIST.
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Now, I’m trying to collect things that move me, that touch me, and that break traditional categories of things I thought I wanted or liked.
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I HAVE THIS MANTRA THAT’S CALLED ‘STOP COUNTING.’
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I’ll still drive to cities just to spend a couple hours searching for some kind of gem. The goal is not to find something valuable. It just has to make sense on a gut level.
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MY BIG PASSION RIGHT NOW IS USED BOOKS. A CERTAIN KIND OF USED BOOKS.
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I have a beyond-belief, crazy collection of very inexpensive publications that are puzzle books, how-to books, magic books and games. It feeds my art practice. It actually fed a multi-year project in collaboration with artist Michael Dumontier that was published as a book in Switzerland.
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REALLY, THERE IS NOT A THING I DO THAT IS SOLO.
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People think collaboration is tough. It’s not. I’ve rarely, rarely had a negative experience. It’s kind of shocking.
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It’s such a nice way of working – sharing the burden and sharing the responsibility.
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I LIKE RECOGNIZING THINGS IN OTHER PEOPLE.