I Felt Anxious at the Vernissage

Mariana Lafrance, I felt anxious at La Petite Mort (detail), inkjet on cut paper, 2012

Mariana Lafrance, I felt anxious at SAW Gallery, inkjet on cut paper, 2012

I Felt Anxious at the Vernissage

Thursday, August 1, 2013 to Saturday, August 31, 2013
Opening Reception:
February 27, 6:30PM
About the Exhibition: 

We often wear masks to hide our social anxiety. Well I certainly do when I feel socially anxious, which happens especially in unstructured social situations, like vernissages. The worst part of social anxiety is other people’s masks: everyone else looks calm and confident, and I am alone.

I wanted to know what a vernissage would look like if all people took off their calm and confident masks and showed me the anxiety I imagine lurking underneath. So I photographed people at a series of vernissages, made prints, and cut out their calm and confident masks. I then made photographs of my own anxious face and placed them behind the prints to peek out from behind all the removed masks. And there. Everyone is anxious like me. At least the isolation is gone.

I think of photography as a social tool. There is a kind of voodoo-doll power in being able to produce a photographic representation of a person, and then play with or manipulate that representation… to do good in the world, of course. 


– Mariana Lafrance

With no vernissage, this exhibition will be on display in the Gallery 44 vitrines for the month of August, while the gallery is closed for renovations, but 401 Richmond remains open to the public from Mon - Sat 9 am - 7pm

This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council, Emerging Artist Grant

Artist Biography: 

Mariana Lafrance is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based on Manitoulin Island. Her photographic work centres around social phenomena, human vulnerability and transformation, and is strongly anchored in her native Northern Ontario. Lafrance published in 2008 a book of photos entitled La ville invisible/Site Unseen. She has exhibited her work extensively in Northern Ontario and is the recipient of a Northern Arts grant and an Emerging Artist grant from the Ontario Arts Council.