By Jacques Doyon
What do the most distant, wild, silent landscapes tell us? How do landscapes of our childhood, those that awoke us to the world, shape us? What reflections of our own future do we find in the chaos of urban sites?
Landscapes are like mirrors, utterly shaped by human presence. The city is a direct extension of the social body and, similarly, all of nature is a construction of culture that becomes meaningful only through the human gaze. Therefore, the environment, nearby or far away, constitutes an ethical issue for civilization. It is an issue that the artists brought together in this portfolio address from different angles by calibrating and recomposing the image, or through narrative recontextualization. There is no landscape in itself, but always an environment appropriated and transformed by a projection of our own needs.
In Résonance des silences, Alain Lefort once again takes us to arctic landscapes, presenting a series of images from Nunavik, highlighted by some older pieces. These images show the majesty, immensity, and almost inhuman beauty of these landscapes of mountains, snow, rocks, and ice, photographed around the village of Ivujiviup, the northernmost in the region. Because these places are too huge and too light-saturated to easily capture and reveal all their subtleties in a single shot, Lefort creates reconstructed landscapes. The difficulty of making images, here, echoes the difficulties of living in the territory. He had to return to the elements one by one (rock, mountain, water, snow, ice) to bring out their nuances, while giving us a glimpse of the challenge of transposing these landscapes of silence and light into images.
Chloé Beaulac created the series Ces lieux qui nous habitent as part of a photographic mission the subject of which was the landscapes of the Laurentian region, where she was born. As she wandered through the territory, she gathered markers of her own history and the distinctive landscapes of her region in a series of Polaroids. First, she had to rediscover the places, and then retrace their particular morphologies, measure what remained and what had changed, and find the echoes of a buried memory, a formative experience. The resulting images are anchored in landscapes that draw both on the real and on a playful, re-enchanted universe. We find ourselves in a fairy-tale world, featuring the life forces of an unconscious made of mysteries, threats, and sometimes mercy, in majestically beautiful landscapes and an atmosphere imbued with a muted disquiet.
In Children of Kaos, David K. Ross transposes us into a very specific urban environment, that of construction sites abandoned in midstream during the confinement imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Framing these sites in his viewfinder, Ross brings into being a series of assemblages that resemble contemporary sculptures and installations rising from a jumble of materials, equipment, and debris left scattered about the sites. These “found objects” are monuments to the creativity and invention that are born of disorder. The titles that Ross gives these assemblages turns them into sons and daughters of the primordial chaos from which everything emerges, according to Greek mythology. This multitude of gods and goddesses created the world and gave it its meaning and values – the ethical and civilizational values that still animate contemporary culture today.
Translated by Käthe Roth
See the magazine for more: Ciel variable 116 – LANDSCAPES AS MIRRORS