Genevieve Thauvette

I digest imagery in abundance on a daily basis, being something of a multimedia junkie. Certain excesses are known to dull the senses and benumb the intellect. The resulting anaesthesia leaves me unmoved by the bulk of what I see, especially in the realm of art.  Last weekend I visited the exhibition of a much vaunted Canadian photographer at the National Gallery. I bore witness to a succession of images that were stunning only for their breathtaking banality. The artist’s sexual politics were used as currency to buy my respect and critical admiration for unremarkable, self-absorbed contrivances wasting valuable space on a gallery wall.  Space that would have been put to more effective use displaying the creative works of Ottawa-based Genevieve Thauvette. Her photos possess a magnetic quality that has me enthralled, and demonstrates all the qualities of a major talent.

The photo above is from a series with Thauvette masquerading as the Dionne Quintuplets,  subjects of a tragic and disturbing Canadian story. Behind the quint emerging from the cake is the Ontario flag,  symbolic of that government’s leading role in their exploitation. The staging is deliberately concocted, evocative of the original depression-era propaganda, when the sisters found themselves hapless commodities at the core of a huge commercial enterprise.

Below in ‘Melons’, Thauvette has again distilled the surreality of the Dionne phenomena with disquieting whimsy.

I’m also a fan of her ‘Beheld’ series. Each work depicts Thauvette masquerading as a famous artist, usually female surrealists,  represented as if they were sacred personages in the style of eastern church orthodox iconography. I’m assuming the framed photos of men are important figures in the lives of the artists. For example in next image, I’m guessing ‘Dorothea Tanning’ is holding a portrait of Max Ernst.

Likewise, below we see ‘Georgia O’Keeffe‘ with Alfred Stieglitz.

I might  be lucky enough to speak with Thauvette one day, and ask about the significance doilies have in her art. My impression is ‘not much’, but then again, I could be surprised.

As luck would have it, I’m an Australian living in Ottawa, and she’s currently exhibiting in Perth, WA. I’ll have to wait till she decides to do something local again. I didn’t get to see her last one at the Dale Smith Gallery, but I vow not to miss the next.

One response to “Genevieve Thauvette”

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