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Archive for the ‘Nature humaine / Human nature’ Category

This week in Sackville I am painting images of the town and of the surrounding countryside that were painted in the late 19th century by the artists John Hammond and Ethel Ogden. Ethel was quite an accomplished and innovative painter for her short life but the only recognition she received in her time was a short mention in the local paper of her china painting.

There is an unconfirmed story of a relationship between the two of them that has surfaced occasionally this week. There is some evidence that Ethel may have been instrumental in bringing Hammond to Sackville in 1893 with the Owens Art Collection. She studied under him in Saint John and then continued as a colleague in Sackville. The extent of the relationship is not clear, but he was her teacher and mentor and they would have gone out together to do plein air landscape painting. Many of their compositions are uncannily similar. Ethel died at a young age of tuberculosis but before this Hammond had married someone else.

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Elizabeth Simcoe, St-Helene - Montreal, ca. 1792-1796

23 mai 2008, Espace Mobile, Vox, Montréal
Elizabeth SIMCOE, “St Helene – Montreal” Cahiers d’esquisse de Elizabeth Simcoe, 1792-1796. Panorama 58-59. Bibliothèque David M Stewart. Fonds Simcoe.

It rained. I was outside for 20 minutes in the Place de la Paix before it poured rain and I had to run inside.

The square is an interesting place. It seems to be so empty. Constructed like modernist sculpture with space in the middle but nothing to encourage people to fill it. Despite this, it is a space that has a great deal of movement and variety. Everything from skater kids using the curb for tricks, or students from the nearby university residence playing soccer in the middle, to the street-involved population stopping for a rest or to congregate and pass some time.

In the brief time I was there I met a woman who I see coming in and out of the peep shows down the block. She has some prison tattoos. She spoke so softly, but wanted me to know that she thought the pink painting of the mountain view was “really pretty.” It began to rain and she disappeared before I could offer it to her.

I also watched from afar as one of the women I met the first day out was “courted” by a man in a car. In the end she didn’t go with him. But later I think she was accosted by another man on the block, he had ripped open the front of her dress in front of everyone and she was really angry. When I first met her, she told me that she paints to express her emotions to the universe.

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13 mai 2008, Espace mobile, Vox, Montréal
Elizabeth SIMCOE, View near Montreal. ca. 1792. Watercolour. Archives of Ontario, Simcoe Family Fonds, F47. Reference code F47-11-1-0-60. (http://www.archives.gov.on.ca Accessed 10 May 2008 ) Traded for a critical analysis.

Denis Longchamps is doing his PhD in Art History on the sketchbook imagery of Elizabeth Simcoe (1762-1850). He is arguing that the sketches she made all along her journey through Upper and Lower Canada in the 18th century were done in order to further the colonialist project of her husband, Lieutenant Governor John Simcoe. Denis’ research has been an integral part of the development of this phase of Pictorial Propaganda in the Quartier des spectacles. My research has been based on his astonishing indexing of all of her sketches among disparate collections on Canada and Europe, as well as his scholarly view of her work as colonialist propaganda.

Denis has offered to make a critical analysis of Pictorial Propaganda (as it reproduces the original watercolours of Elizabeth Simcoe) within the context of his own PhD research.

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Saint James United Church Saint James Drop In Centre / Centre du Jour Saint-James Saint James Drop In Centre / Centre du jour Saint-James

Anne Marie Beaulieu Bernard Racicot Christine et une amateure d\'art

Daguy au travail Jacques Zurich et Billy, amateur d\'art

Elizabeth SIMCOE, View Near Montreal, 1792

13 mai 2008, Espace mobile, Vox, Montréal
Elizabeth SIMCOE, View near Montreal. ca. 1792. Watercolour. Archives of Ontario, Simcoe Family Fonds, F47. Reference code F47-11-1-0-60. (http://www.archives.gov.on.ca Accessed 10 May 2008 )

Aujourd’hui, nous nous sommes installés dans l’espace public récemment réamennagé situé devant l’église Saint James United. Quelques membres du Centre de jour St-James* m’ont accompagnée pour peindre en plein air. Un gros merci à Anne-Marie, Bernard, Daguy, Daniel, Christine, Jacques, et Zurich (notre Groupe des Sept) qui ont passé une belle après-midi avec moi en partagent leur créativité.

Cette expérience était moins importante pour mes propres rencontres avec le public, il s’agissait plutôt d’une opportunité de mettre en valeur les activités culturelles de la communauté de Saint James United qu’elle ne rend pas toujours visible… (more…)

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Parcours pittoresque du Quartier des spectacles

Le Quartier des spectacles est une des composantes de la nouvelle image de marque de Montréal axée sur la culture et la mise en valeur de son activité créatrice. Il s’agit de la plus récente phase de son développement économique. Je m’intéresse en particulier à l’opinion des gens concernant l’impact socioéconomique et environnemental de ces changements.

The Quartier des spectacles is part of Montréal’s re-branding through culture as a “creative city.” This is the most recent of many phases of economic development in the city’s history. I am interested in public opinion on the impact (socioeconomic and environmental) of these changes.

(more…)

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Why did discussions around landscape in Canada before the 1960s tend to champion national difference and distinctiveness, often under the banner of exceptionalism, while more recent debates have focused on issues of colonial power and dispossession, transnational crossovers, and regional idiosyncrasy? What relevance do traditional landscape tropes have in a world of vastly altered political, technological, demographic, and environmental circumstances? And if traditional tropes continue to persist, what does it say about the relationship between contemporary realities and the the authority, power, and influence of conventional understandings of nationhood?” — Beyond Wilderness : The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art. John O’Brian and Peter White Eds. (Montreal : McGill-Queens University Press, 2007), 6.

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Le chasseur d’ours

Arthur HEMING, The Bear Hunter, 1910

17 août 2007, L’Église
25e Symposium international d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul

HEMING, Arthur. The Bear Hunter, 1910. Monochrome oil on canvas. 42.6 x 30.9 cm (image); 49.8 x 36.2 cm (canvas). National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Accession no. 218. (Reproduced from Canadian Art : Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa. Vol. 2 / G-K. Ed. Pierre B. Landry. Ottawa : National Gallery of Canada, 1994. p. 116.)

Cette toile fut inspirée par un couple de Les Éboulements qui ont une grande ouverture d’esprit, à tel point qu’ils accueillent des gens défavorisés chez eux pour leur faire vivre une expérience dans la nature. Pendant leur séjour, le monsieur accompagne ces gens en randonnée. Il est également un chasseur d’ours. Bien que cette toile n’est pas strictement un paysage, il témoigne d’une image, celle de l’homme dans la nature, identité que nous avons en tant que peuple descendant des coureurs de bois, des chasseurs et des pionniers qui ont exploré ce pays sauvage. (more…)

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But this is not why she bought the pictures, way back then. She bought them because she wanted them. She wanted something that was in them, although she could not have said at the time what it was. It was not peace : she does not find them peaceful in the least. Looking at them fills her with a wordless unease. Despite the fact that there are no people in them or even animals, it’s as if there is something, or someone, looking back out.” – Margaret Atwood, “Death by Landscape” in Wilderness Tips (Toronto : Emblem Editions, 1999), 92.

A significant difficulty of this project is the vulnerable position I put myself into. This vulnerability is voluntary and part of the boundaries of what I would like to test. How do others choose to treat me when I put myself at their disposition? Where are the limits of respect in our engagement? Will others abuse or take advantage of me?

(more…)

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Canada’s Most Wanted and Most Unwanted Colours
Les couleurs les plus et les moins désirées par les Canadiens

Komar & Melamid Blue / Bleu 30%
Green / Vert 18%
Beige 8%
Maroon / Bordeaux 6%
Yellow / Jaune 5%
Purple / Violet 5%
Teal /Sarcelle 5%
Peach / Pêche 4%
Pink / Rose 4%
Red / Rouge 3%
Black / Noir 2%
Brown / Brun 1%
Orange 1%
Fuchsia 1%
Grey / Gris 1%
Mauve 1%
Other / Autre 1%
Don’t know / Sans préférence 3%

Anthony Kiendl, Bruce Grenville. Komar & Melamid: Canada’s Most Wanted and Most Unwanted (Regina : Dunlop Art Gallery, 1999), 8

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…il est important de réconsidérer la place des oeuvres dans le système global de l’économie, symbolique ou matérielle, qui régit la société contemporaine : pour nous, au-delà de son charactère marchand ou de sa valeur sémantique, l’oeuvre d’art représent un interstice social. Ce terme d’interstice fut utilisé par Karl Marx pour qualifier des communautés d’échanges échappant au cadre de l’économie capitaliste, car soustraites à la loi du profit : troc, ventes à perte, production autarciques, etc. L’interstice est un espace de relations humaines qui, tour en s’insérent plus ou moins harmonieusement et ouvertement dans le système global, suggère d’autres possibilités d’échanges que celles qui sont en vigeur dans ce système.” — Nicolas Bourriaud, Esthétique relationnelle, (Dijon : Les Presses du réel, 2001), 16.

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The Western idea of the autonomous ‘figure in the landscape’ is no longer accepted in critical discourse, yet it remains a pervasive myth in general culture, one that answers to a deeply felt desire for trancendance.” — Petra Halkes, Aspiring to the Landscape : On painting and the Subject of Nature (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2006), 145.

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What might appear as contradictory, that is, the fact that economic globalization seems to be accompanied by an increase of cultural divisions, is only so on the surface. It is a fact that, in a world where exchanges of goods and ideas are more and more frequent on an international level, people are increasingly aware of the unique characteristics of their own local cultures. Similarly, and it is particularly obvious in the European Union, the disappearance of the old national borders when it comes to goods and persons, has made the artificiality of these borders very clear: the creation of national identities — a recent phenomenon after all — and the political desire to brand and localize them within artificial boundaries has far too often very little to do with any sense of local belonging. It is not possible to differentiate clearly the elements of local cultures from those of national cultures: if the local culture is made up, for instance, of elements like the language we use with family and close friends, as well as the type of food or clothing one is used to wearing, the national culture is made up, for example, of historical events and stories often associated to the ‘nation-building’ movements of the past.” — Frank Vigneron, “On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the handover …” Asia Art Archive News Letter 7 June (2007). (Accessed June 20th 2007)

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Economic laws appear “to be like natural laws, that they are not made by man to regulate free acts of exchange but are functions of the productive conditions of society as a whole where all activities are leveled down to the human body’s metabolism with nature and where no exchange exists but only consumption” — Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition. (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1958), 209 quoted in Kieran Bonner, ” Understanding Placemaking : Economics, Politics and Everyday Life in the Culture of Cities,” Canadian Journal of Urban Research 11, no 1 (2002), 2.

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The topographical views of military officers were in fact simply one manifestation of the romantic inclination of English gentlemen of the later eighteenth century to delight in the splendours of natural scenery or anything they found in their travels that was charmingly primitive, rough, quaint, or exotic — in a word picturesque. — Dennis Reid. A Concise History of Canadian Painting. 2nd ed. (Toronto : Oxford University Press, 1988), 19.

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A vrai dire la beauté des paysages de Charlevoix n’est perçu que par les premiers visiteurs anglophones vers le milieu du XIXe siècle… Quand, à partir de 1844, un service de vapeurs permet d’amener tous les jeudis les voyageurs de la ville de Québec… Charlevoix change de vocation. Le comté devient un haut lieu touristique, au climat salubre, où l’on peut prendre des bains de mer … «Peu d’endroits au Canada soutiennent la comparaison pour la beauté du paysage», proclament les guides touristiques… La beauté du compté du Charlevoix était donc née, fille improbable du choléra de 1832 et de l’industrie touristique naissante!” — François-Marc Gagnon. Charlevoix : Une histoire d’art 1900-1940. Baie-Saint-Paul : Centre d’exposition de Baie-Saint-Paul, 1994, p 7-8.

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When I was a child, I knew no more about nature than a squirrel. If someone had asked me what nature was, I would probably have said that it was my family’s farm, the woods especially and the creek that flooded every spring. Nature was space and the wild things in it, like the geese that flew overhead.” — George Gessert, “Gathered from Coincidence : Reflections on Art in a Time of Global Warming” Leonardo 40, no. 3 (2007) p.231

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Landscape does not exist in nature without the eye which grasps an expanse of land as a landscape. Climate’s existence is similar… Climate is thus a multidimentional phenomenon in which are combined the contributions of nature, culture, history and geography, but also the imaginary and the symbolic.” — Julien Knebusch. “The Perception of Climate Change” Leonardo 40, no.2 (2007) p.113

I’ll be back at the Marché Atwater / Atwater Market in June and July, and at the 25e SYMPOSIUM international d’art contemporain de BAIE-SAINT-PAUL in August.

Venez me rencontrer…

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