How do we construct ourselves?
Often the ways in which we view and present ourselves are narratives, stories borne from the memories of the past and of hopes for the future.
But memories are not always just our own, and our hopes and dreams sometimes go beyond our limits.
In this exhibition, artists Geneviève Thauvette and Heidi Conrod have collaborated. Conrod interprets Thauvette’s self portraiture through the application of hand-collaged imagery sourced from folklore, illustrations and pop culture.
Using visual storytelling, Constructions explores the overlap between the idea of the self and the effects of the world around us.
“I typically shoot elaborate scenes with a heavy emphasis on costumes or decor. For my collaboration with Heidi I wanted to simplify my process, to give her a canvas with which to play and explore. It was liberating to focus on gesture, movement or subdued expression. My mind was linked to her eventual exploration of the work. I worked in tandem with this expectation- feeling strangely connected to an unformed subconscious creation. It was like building the stage for dreaming - being an extra in someone else’s memory.”
– Geneviève Thauvette
“I choose to work with collaged elements of my own drawing as well as found imagery from collected books and magazines on folklore, botany, and fungi. Multiple influences that have inspired my sketchbook drawings over the years. Collage seemed important/relevant as it represents the cut, the tear, the future and past, and overlay of our contemporary culture. It allows for hybrid languages to be remixed, re-contextualized and wholly built from fragments of daily life and imagined worlds. Each of Genevieve’s portraits provided me with a clue or a gesture upon which I created an imagined world. Drawing, collecting, cutting, pasting, rephotographing, scanning, building up the stories in response to the cues given.”
– Heidi Conrod
“Genevieve’s use of her own physical body was a reminder of the bodies we have missed, the touch and sensuality we have missed over the past year. I tried to take her isolated body and gestures and give them a sense of wonder as well as being physically connected to the collage elements. The body itself communicates its limits through sickness, pain, and isolation. As I responded to these elements in Genevieve’s work. I build the stories around these themes.”
– Heidi Conrod
“The need for us to be present, to show up, to be visible seems to be a product of our capitalist society, putting pressure on us as individuals to produce and be a product. These collages attempt to address and reflect on these trappings.”
– Heidi Conrod
“Who in the world am I?”
Ah, that’s the great puzzle.
Ottawa-based artist Heidi Conrod draws inspiration from a wide-range of sources, spanning from science, literature, nature and philosophy, to Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism. Conrod’s work joins together painting and drawing, abstraction and representation, in intuitive and improvisational ways. Through the act of layering, forms and shapes are multiplied by superimposing, and the space of the canvas expanded. Her works develop over an extended period of time, and define themselves through the process of emergence. Her work explores the nature of direct visual experience, one that involves infinite movement and thought. She has exhibited her work in galleries across Canada and the United States. Her work can be seen in numerous private and public art collections.
Geneviève Thauvette is a Franco-Ontarian artist currently residing in Toronto. Her photographs have shown internationally, notably at the 17th Japan Media Arts Festival, the Perth International Arts Festival (Australia), the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and the Vie Jeux de la Francophonie in Beirut were she won the gold medal for Canada. Her series Les quintuplées Dionne have been acquired by the Canadian Museum of History and the City of Ottawa Fine Art Collection. She is a 2013 recipient of the FlashForward emerging artists award and has earned several grants, including a 2011, 2016 and 2017 Artist Production Grant from the Ontario Arts Council and the 2015 and 2017 Artists in the Library grant from the Toronto Arts Council.
Thauvette presented Cake is Freedom, a performative installation at Ottawa’s inaugural Nuit Blanche, which was the subject of a Radio-Canada documentary (Rendez-vous Artv). Geneviève has presented many photo workshops and been a part of numerous juries. In 2012 and 2016 respectively, she was chosen to select the final participating artists for the North-American and Caribbean delegations for the VIIe and VIIIe Jeux de la Francophonie. She was also a photography competition jury member during the 2013 Games held in Nice and president of the jury at the 2017 Games in Abidjan.