Memory is a Weapon

Maryse Goudreau, Conversations, ink jet print, 2012-2013

Maryse Goudreau, Charge, inkjet print, 2012-2013

Maryse Goudreau, Aliter, ink jet print, 2012-2013

Memory is a Weapon, installation view in G44 vitrines, photo by Morris Lum

Memory is a Weapon, installation view in G44 vitrines, photo by Morris Lum

Memory is a Weapon

Saturday, March 8, 2014 to Saturday, April 19, 2014
Opening Reception:
March 8,
12:00PM to 2:00PM
About the Exhibition: 

Maryse Goudreau works across photography, performance, installation and video to explore obsolescence and disappearance. Through the use of archival materials she creates a new archive that traces the history of the attempted eradication of beluga whales by the Quebec government in the 1920s. These campaigns were launched as the government was under the false notion that these mammals were subsisting on fish that were vital to the survival of the Canadian fishing industry. The found images of this specific moment in history are paired with performances that were staged by an all-boys school located in the same area as the whale ‘bombings’ (one of the tactics of eradication), through which Goudreau is able to connect social, political, economic and anthropological threads.

The series also includes contemporary images of the once vibrant ports and wharfs of Eastern Canada. Cultivated by a long history of waiting for seamen to arrive back from the sea, these spaces still serve as the social nexus of several communities. With the decline of the Canadian fishing industry, these places of collective gathering, and therefore collective memory, are being foreclosed. In an act of reclamation Goudreau gathers members from the community and stages a group portrait that is part civic demonstration and part spectacle. By using the wet collodion process for the portraits she is able to draw an analogy between the uncertainty or perhaps moribund state of our watersystems and of certain photographic media. The fragmented nature of the images also provides, as Goudreau says, “an artifact of the violence.” Whether an overt violence or an allegory for hostility enacted through policy or apathy.  

Goudreau is very aware that the wharfs are part of a larger reality, as, for example, many of the Oceanography libraries in Canada are closing and the federal government is shutting down labs that study the effects of chemical pollutants in oceans and rivers. One of the performative qualities of her series explores these phenomena through the staging of her subjects, all of whom have their backs to the water. Through a hybrid approach Goudreau attempts to release images from official histories, creating alternative narrative spaces. 



For Gallery 44's second Brunch Talk of the season, Maryse Goudreau is joined by MarcLosier and Julia Abraham in a discussion around photography, landscape and performance. 


Artist Biography: 

Maryse Goudreau was born in Gaspésie (Quebec, Canada) in 1980. She lives and works in Escuminac and in Montreal, and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Concordia University. Her practice brings together photography, community interventions, and installation, through which she explores themes of social memory and identity. She has been the recipient of several grants from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for research, creation, travel and the commissioning of works. She has recently had solo exhibitions at espace f, Vaste et Vague artist run center, and VU Photo. This coming May she will be participating in a photography residency program in Halsnoy Kloster, Norway.