Chloé Beaulac, Ces lieux qui nous habitent — Dominique Sirois-Rouleau, Territories of Memory

[Winter 2021]

Dominique Sirois-Rouleau

Chosen to take part in the Missions photographiques des Laurentides project,1 Chloé Beaulac set herself the objective of finding the family cottage that had been part of her childhood. This quest motivated the month-long residency, during which her recollections tied to the Laurentian landscape were confronted with reality. For days, she travelled through the region, capturing each scrap of memory, instant of surprise, and moment of beauty. The Polaroids that she accumulated both document her trip and the influences of the project and testify to how remembrance is reconstructed.2

One would like to believe that Planque (2020) presents the result of Beaulac’s original search, but the building set on a rocky outcropping serves instead as a warning about detours in the memory’s process. Facts and emotions shift over time, causing reality to move into an almost-truth of its own. Beaulac’s world of subterfuges and substitutions replays this mechanism. Genuine expectations are betrayed by a fantastical interpretation of spaces. Here, the cottage takes centre stage. Uninhabited and reflected in the calm lake, it’s at odds with the restless vegetation that frames it. Its curtains, strangely, are drawn against the opulence of nature and its own isolation. Far from the presumed bucolic ambience of a child’s memories, the building ultimately resembles a hideaway for those who wish to neither see nor be seen. It is also bathed with light thanks to a single gap in the clouds above. The subject is presented from a strangely disquieting angle, as if, like all the works in the corpus, it was caught by surprise in the midst of transition between reality and invention.

Reconstructed Truths. Nature as seen by an urban child, admirable and splendid, is unveiled majestically in Galerie des glaces (2020). Beaulac’s manipulations are more perceptible here, as she enhances the grandiosity of the spot with a dreamlike touch. Cut out and doubled as if in the shards of a mirror, the forest is made even more vertiginous by a man in the centre who gives the measure of its height.

1 Missions photographiques is a travelling creation program piloted by the Rencontres internationales de la photographie en Gaspésie ; in 2019, the project took place in the Laurentians region.
2 Ces lieux qui nous habitent was presented at the Centre d’exposition de Val-David, September 16, 2020, to January 4, 2021.


See the magazine for the complete article and more images: Ciel variable 116 – LANDSCAPES AS MIRRORS