Shadows in a Labyrinth

Canadian multidisciplinary artist Stéphanie Morissette’s works reflect on human behavior and the use of technologies in our quotidian life as well as in the geopolitical sphere; on conflicts and their psychological impact on the different participating actors.

In this exclusive interview she discusses her project, ‘Shadows in a Labyrinth’ (with co-collaborator Dale Einarson), which reflects on the complexity, the flaws and ephemeral aspects of our brain and memory, as well as on the medium and technologies, drawing parallels with mental illness and disease like Alzheimer.

Stéphanie Morissette: Shadows in a Labyrinth, 2017 (still image)

Richard Bright: Can we begin by you saying something about your background?

Stéphanie Morissette: I studied in Art History and Studio Art at Concordia University in Montreal; International Artistic Cooperation at Paris VIII University in France and Film Writing Scenario at UQAM in Montréal. Over the last 16 years, I have taken part in several international artistic residency programs, e.g. in Canada (Banff Center), Iceland, Finland and more recently Germany. I have collaborated with Dale Einarson for more than ten years, who has worked as Technical Director and Engineer for sound recording and film post-production studios. Together we create image and sound for our videos.

RB: Have there been any particular influences to your art practice?

SM: Yes, I work mostly with paper and video, I was influenced by an uncle who teaches art and works with paper. Also when I was younger, I loved watching a TV show called: L’évangile en papier (The Gospel in paper) where Claude Lafortune would create the characters in paper directly in front of the camera to present in 3D the world of The Gospel. Also I grew up with Musique Plus (Quebecois version of MTV), so short art video clips had a great impact on me and on my desire to work with this medium. There are many artists who I admire and follow their work, either for their political work, their reinterpretation of History, their comment on society or their innovative approach to art and technology like Lotte Reiniger, Hans Haack, Kara Walker; Anish Kapoor, William Kentridge, Anselm Kiefer, Louise Bourgeois, Shirin Neshat, Kendell Geers and Polly Morgan.

Stéphanie Morissette: Shadows in a Labyrinth, 2017 (still image)

RB: What is the underlying focus and vocabulary of your work?

SM: For each exhibition project, I try to propose a narrative environment where I revisit History adopting different points of view. With my work, I try to reflect on human behaviour and the use of technologies in our quotidian life as well as in the geopolitical sphere, on conflicts and their psychological impact on the different participating actors.

My installations are composed as much of paper, motors, drawings, photos, animations and videos. This hybrid approach helps transcend the mediums themselves. I give volume and movement to 2D paper; I work in series, which therefore brings a sequential aspect close to cinema and comics.

Stéphanie Morissette: Shadows in a Labyrinth, 2017 (still image)

RB: Can you say something about your work Shadows in a Labyrinth (2017)?

SM: I saw a brain-tractography imaging presentation by Imeka, and immediately saw the potential for animation. I tend to see everything in sequence, in multiple frames with different angles. Therefore, I was interested to work with them. For Shadows in a Labyrinth I wanted to create a parallel between technology, with its difficulty to archive as a medium, and our brain, our memory with its complexity, and its flaws.

I used my own video archives with different technologies for this work: hand drawing animation image per image; 16mm footage; first generation of digital video with cassettes; HD video; a video projector with a broken chip and FMRI brain imaging. I wanted to show that images are difficult to preserve well. Even with amazing technology, presenting what is inside our brain can not help us improve our memory yet. Those images become shadows of memories, of artworks, and our brain is like a labyrinth storing them.

RB: Our human brains interpret information through pattern recognition and re-arranging pattern, which is an evolving dynamic process. What importance does pattern play in your artwork?


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