The gallery is pleased to present our second solo exhibition of photographs by Éliane Excoffier, which will feature an overview of her work to date. The exhibition will coincide with the launch of her new catalogue Éliane Excoffier: bilan 1996–2008, copublished
by the Musée régional de Rimouski, Galerie Simon Blais and Stephen Bulger Gallery, and featuring an essay by Bernard Lamarche.
Over the course of her photographic career, Excoffier has focused on exploring the dark
and physical links that bind the history of photography and its techniques with the
representation of the female body. In her first series, Rituels (1996), Excoffier’s
depiction of the body considers the model against which women judge themselves. Often
anorexic in form, the moving and ghostly figures blend with their environment as a
means of making their disappearance visible.
Excoffier’s second series, Dualité (1997), affirms her interest in the history of
photography and how it informs interpretations of the female body. Reminiscent of
Muybridge’s female figure studies in motion, Dualité was also created in reaction to
Lexique de beauté by Claudette de Sèves in 1935, which imparted the rules that women
should abide by to maintain their beauty. Excoffier superimposes negatives to create a
dual image that illustrates the struggle between women’s personal aspirations and
society’s expectations. In 1999, Excoffier continued her investigation into the rules of
beauty in Petit lexique de beauté. In this series, her female subjects perform similar
gestures to those in Dualité, but through the process of overprinting and the effect of
blurring, Excoffier undermines the appeal of traditional beauty.
Obscures (2004), is influenced by historical erotic photographs and also marks the
beginning of Excoffier’s experimentation with historical techniques. Using a pinhole
camera, Excoffier creates dramatic and crude images of the female body that imply an
element of mystery; a fleeting and accidental moment captured for the voyeur’s gaze. In
Obscures (série no. 2), she continues this exploration with a larger format Kodak
Camera from 1914 and both film and paper negatives. The film negatives allow a more
defined image, while the paper negatives have a richer tonality of imprecise details. Both
invite the voyeur’s gaze without satisfying it.
The exhibition will also include work from her most recent series, Chambres (et autres
histoires photographiques) (2011), which gives pride of place to objects and challenges
Excoffier by working outside of a studio setting for the first time. All small in size, the
works, like those preceding it, evoke narratives tinged with an implicit mystery.
Excoffier (b. St. Jérôme, Québec, 1971) lives and works in Montréal. She graduated with
a degree in Visual Arts and Art History from the University of Montréal in 1996. Her
work can be found in the collections of Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Montréal;
Banque Nationale, Montréal; Loto-Québec, Montréal; Giverny Capital, Montréal;
Fondation MontMartFund, Paris; Prêts d'oeuvres d'art du Musée National des Beaux-Arts
du Québec, Québec; amongst others.