Issue 12, December 2003:
The Best of Canadian Media
Category: Best Digital Imagery:
Natural History Museum - Janieta Eyre
Toronto-based digital photo/performance artist Janieta Eyre explores notions of the uncanny and the double in a playful yet disquieting fashion. Her works are evocative of early experiments in photographic masquerade from Claude Cahun (1920s) to Madame Yevonde (1930s). Yet they firmly belong to a visual iconography of the 20/1st century, and could (almost) be mistaken for joyful graphic advertisements were it not for their macabre doubling of the subject. Eyre's exhibition Natural History Museum (Dazibao Gallery, 2003) takes an unconventional look at birth and motherhood: a two-part tale is presented via split screen video projection in which the artist, visibly pregnant, performs symbolic rituals linked to childbirth. Also in the exhibition are photographs from a series entitled Motherhood, in which Eyre creates iconographic narratives. For example, in Bloodbath we see the theatrical machinations of an imagination run wild as twins perch on the edge of a bath coifed in clown wigs with rag doll bodies hanging like bibs. Elsewhere (Scratch; Pink Hat) the occult experiments of women caught in self-aware acts of discovery unsettle our expectations of photographic verisimilitude. I chose Eyre's work because of its converging interest in performance, photography, and digital media (think Mariko Mori, Mathew Barney). Eyre uses familiar, childlike, colourful environments to draw us into her fantastic world where the private is unveiled in its many forms, complexities, and fantasies.
Expert at Large: Val?rie Lamontagne*
*Val?rie Lamontagne channels her creative energy through digital media and performance projects like The Advice Bunny, Becoming Balthus, and Sister Valerie (see www.mobilegaze.com). She is presently developing a project about the relationship between spiritualism and electricity. Val?rie is an independent curator, and a founding member of MobileGaze. She also writes on digital media, and teaches at Concordia University's Department of Digital Image/Sound