Construction Work: Renovation Spirits CARLETON UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY, OTTAWA FEB 23 TO APR 12 2009 by EMILY FALVEY
Impersonal forces such as markets and corporate interests increasingly determine the construction of our physical environments, often at the expense of functionality, sustainability and aesthetics. “Construction Work,” a group exhibition curated by Sandra Dyck, questions this cavalier relationship with space and the built environment. Featuring new work by three innovative artists from the Ottawa-Gatineau region, the exhibition critiques traditional understandings of design and architecture while also unpacking several stubborn modernist motifs, including the white cube, the utopian impulse and the politics of nationalist mythmaking. Gilbert´s photographic series Le Patrimoine explores the disjunction between the nationalist mythos and socio-economic reality of Quebec. Focusing on landscape and tourist attractions, her photographs mingle icons of La Belle Province—horse—drawn sleighs, coureurs des bois, winter sports and references to "http://cybermuse.gallery.ca Clarence Gagnon—with less appealing images of contemporary gravel pits, highways and suburban housing developments, as well as references to Aboriginal land claims. Laboriously constructed composite images, these stunning black and white photographs are imbued with a subtle aura of painterly artifice, creating an atmosphere this is at once alluring and uncanny. (1125 Colonel By Dr, Ottawa ON)
Texte pour le vernissage de Construction Works Lorraine Gilbert’s “Le Patrimoine” By Leslie Reid - ( artist/painter)
Lorraine Gilbert has photographed the natural world for many years, whether the difficult hillsides of clear cuts in BC, the volcanic terrain of Iceland, or the flora and debris in the city of Ottawa.
The constant throughout her long career has been her deeply felt care, and fear, for the fragility of our environment, and here she continues her long established critique of our uses and abuses of our surroundings.
The work in this exhibition holds references to her early tree planting series, where she explored how we view the land through photography, acknowledging both the self consciousness of our time and the aesthetic of early landscape photography from the turn of the last century.
Here, Lorraine has established a critique of urban/rural tensions, particularly those found in her previous home, Quebec. All is not as it seems. These are what Lorraine calls “colonized landscape”. She does not want us to miss her biting critique - yet it is very subtly and masterfully inserted into the seemingly straightforward landscape. Perhaps we feel we might have been at that frites stand, or seen the beaver swimming at Tremblant, - no more unusual than sunbathers at a gravel quarry…… It is landscape with a bite.
Lorraine shows that in our colonised environment we have learned to ignore distinctions between the authentic and the fake, in an age of what she calls “ experience by proxy”. In these very evocative photographs of rural sites and of the picturesque, Lorraine is very conscious of using the particularities of Quebec patrimoine and its imagery . In her superbly constructed photographs, the focus is not this landscape of leisure, but the relentless colonization of nature that we cannot ignore.
Construction Work installation view of Le Patrimoine, Carleton University Art Gallery