Emmanuelle Léonard
La Providence, 2014
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
22.10.14 – 05.02.15

Emmanuelle Léonard’s videos and photographs blur the lines between documentary and fiction, often involving straightforward portraits of individuals working or living within a specific institution. In her 2011 video Le beau, le laid, et la photographie, she asked high-school-age girls to speak about their conception of the ugly and the beautiful. She now turns her camera toward two ageing communities, one in England, the other in Montréal, to delve into their conception of the future. For the members of the Sisters of Charity of Montréal, more commonly known as the Grey Nuns, the future looks quite different from that envisaged by people of the English seaside town Bexhill-on-Sea. In La Providence (2014), we encounter retired nuns in the generic apartments they now call home, after having recently vacated their one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old Mother House in downtown Montréal. Still active, they recount their missionary work in Africa and the Canadian North, and reflect on their impending death and reunion with their husband, the Eternal Father, and the precarious future of their dwindling order.

Emmanuelle Léonard, La Providence, 2014, single-channel HD video installation with sound, 29 minutes, French with English version available on headphones (courtesy of the artist; special thanks to Sisters Madeleine Therrien, Réjeanne Fortin, Evelyne Blanchard, Cécile Montpetit, Réjeanne Grandmaison, Marie-Paule Arsenault et Ginette Bacon)
Postcard from Bexhill-on-Sea, 2014
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
22.10.14 – 04.01.15

In Postcard from Bexhill-on-Sea (2014), voice-overs combine with views of the sea as ageing couples, some more optimistic than others, focus on the short time they have left and nostalgically comment on the lack of civility and human contact in the world today.

These works provide an intimate portrait of the future seen through the eyes of two closely-knit but very different communities.

Emmanuelle Léonard, Postcard from Bexhill-on-Sea, 2014, single-channel HD video installation with sound, 15 minutes, English with French version available on headphones (courtesy of the artist)

Born in 1971 in Montréal, where she lives and works, Emmanuelle Léonard is a graduate of Concordia University and the Université du Québec à Montréal. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; Kunsthaus Dresden, Germany; Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin; Optica, Montréal; VOX, Contemporary Image Centre, Montréal; Mercer Union, Toronto; Gallery 44, Toronto; Glassbox, Paris; Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal; L’œil de Poisson (Québec City); and Centre d’exposition Expression, St-Hyacinthe, QC.

She also took part in The Québec Triennial at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2011) and her work was included in the exhibition À Montréal, quand l’image rôde, curated by Louise Déry at Le FresnoyStudio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing, France (2013). She has been awarded residencies at Villa Arson, Nice, France; the Christoph Merian Foundation, Basel, Switzerland; and the Finnish Artists’ Studio Foundation, Espoo, Finland. Léonard is the recipient of the 2005 Prix Pierre-Ayot. She was nominated for the Grange Prize, Art Gallery of Ontario (2012) and was a finalist for the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec’s first Contemporary Art Award (2013).