Lisl Ponger

From October 19 to December 16, 2017
Opening on 19 October at 7 pm



Three works placed alongside one another raise issues around migration, territory and borders, and pose a number of questions with respect to the validity of the integration policies of several countries. In the face of the difficulties experienced by countless individuals in reaching a welcoming place and of migration conditions of continuing precariousness, and in light of the increasing number of transit areas and the series of antechambers to be crossed, one is entitled to ask if our societies are delivering a “promised land” and at what cost to those who come in search of it. In a context such as Dazibao, it is impossible to ignore how images inform these phenomena both through their forging of bias towards newcomers and their perpetuation of an ever-increasing gap between the reality of migration and the expectations of displaced individuals. Paradoxically, images and their now greatly unfettered circulation have become a primary tool for a majority of migrants. 

The exhibition consists of works whose rhythms and modes of dissemination differ from the media images generally in circulation as a means to acknowledge the stories that often remain muted or are pushed out of the public sphere. Following a number of projects presented by Dazibao that address current social issues, the work of Hubert Caron-Guay, Hillside Projects (Emily Mennerdahl & Jonas Böttern) and Lisl Ponger and invites us to analyse the narrative systems and images that inform our understanding of the world.

The Austrian artist Lisl Ponger, working in Vienna, uses photography, film and installation to examine and explore our conceptions of the “Other” and its too-often archetypal representations. Her work has been exhibited widely in international solo and group exhibitions, as well as in numerous festivals and biennials. Since the 1990s, she has been addressing political questions that remain equally relevant today. Her work takes up issues around colonialism, ethnology and the construction of identity.

For Passages (1996), Lisl Ponger salvaged amateur films devoted to travelling. Initially intended for home use, these touristic images seem at first merry and good-hearted, an album of post-colonial idealism. Slowly, however, the dazzle and exoticism of the images contrast with the discourse. The seemingly light tone of the travel memories takes on another dimension. The sense of escape suggested by travel is contrasted by stories with no conclusion, no respite; individual accounts of refugees fleeing Nazi terror and Jews forced to leave Vienna, voices recounting the torture and imprisonment of people trying to take refuge in Vienna. Through a kind of imaginary cartography of the twentieth-century post-colonial world, Passages foreshadows the displacements of the following century. 

Hubert Caron-Guay lives in Montreal, where he works as an artist, filmmaker, scriptwriter and producer. After studying film at UQAM, he was an active participant in the collective Épopée from 2010 to 2015, during which time he developed several documentary and fiction-based projects that have been exhibited widely in Canada and abroad. Through a “Recherche et création expérimentale” residency with PRIM in 2016, Caron-Guay developed the feature-length documentary Destierros (presented by the RIDM) and the installation Arroyos.

The work of Hubert Caron-Guay, which grows out of the proximity, one might even say the intimacy, he develops with his protagonists, explores first and foremost the human condition, even as the policies governing this condition are interrogated. The work presented here, Arroyos ― which translates to “flows” ― offers a disquieting portrait of the corridor taken by many migrants at the border of Mexico and the United States and the people who find themselves confined there. The work’s large-screen projection shows landscapes that convey the loss of bearings, the scale of the crossing and the inherent insecurity of the migrants’ journey. Adjacent to the projection is a series of intimate portraits for view on mobile telephones. The vastness of the crossing is confronted with the details of individual dramas in which barriers and borders carry out a form of repression that goes beyond the confinement of their physical demarcations.

Hillside Projects is a research and production collective made up of Emily Mennerdahl and Jonas Böttern. Working in Stockholm, the two artists develop interdisciplinary projects whose focus is natural changes, which in their work become a metaphor for sensitive sociopolitical questions. Hillside Projects is particularly interested in the concept of knowledge and in authorities of this knowledge. They work regularly with thinkers and researchers in other fields in order to broaden the spectrum of their investigations.

Searching for the European Roller, a project in evolution since 2011, takes the form here of a performance/reading, a video and an installation made up of various artefacts tracing the history of a specific species of bird. Long ago, the European Roller lived and reproduced freely in northern Europe. For no apparent reason, the species slowly went into steep decline and its last known nesting in Sweden dates from 1967. Recently, however, by breaking up the landscape and designing specific environments to attract the bird, scientists are attempting to reintegrate the species in Sweden. An in-depth study of cartography and of this bird’s migratory models has led Hillside Projects to analyse this desire to reintroduce a species, and to wonder why some species are more desirable than others, or have irrevocable legitimacy in a given territory. The history of the European Roller thus became a metaphorical starting point for a broader investigation into the notions of borders, limits and migration, as well as the notions of belonging, acceptance, and partiality.

― F.C.

This exhibition is presented by Dazibao on the occasion of the RIDM.

This exhibition was organised for Dazibao by France Choinière, in close collaboration with the artists and Dazibao's advisory committee, in particular Michaela Grill.

Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.