2016 - Ongoing
It is with the project entitled Belle de Jour produced in 2002 that I began to work specifically with women as my primary subjects. The first Belle de Jour series is a survey of over 30 large-scale color photographs depicting women in various states of undress posing as iconic female types culled from the canons of art history and vernacular culture.
In 2014, I produced the 2nd installment of Belle de Jour. These portraits were also used as a vehicle to explore and challenge deeply entrenched standards of beauty. I am interested in images that are imbued with sensuality and render my subjects physically and emotionally compelling. In Belle de Jour II, I emphasize plurality and difference by photographing an array of female types from various walks of life and age groups. Women existing in a state of psychological and physical individuality are presented to invite the viewer to contemplate and consider the underlying tensions between vulnerability and strength, awkwardness and grace, and naturalness and self-possession. Belle de Jour II is an extension of the original series and a more in-depth study of contemporary representations of the feminine.
In both series, I ultimately created my own feminist narrative by using a language of subversion to comment on a different type of beauty that is not dependent on artifice, as is often associated with mainstream images of women.
At the present time, my research focuses on the turn of the 20th century photographs of women produced by William Notman. Notman was a highly regarded Scottish-Canadian photographer who ran one of the first photographic studios in Canada. He produced thousands of images during the Victorian era and his archive is an important testament of our rich photographic history. The William Notman Photographic Archives conserved in the McCord Museum in Montreal is a historically invaluable photographic collection providing an extensive visual record of Montreal, Quebec and Canada from 1840 to 1935. The representation of women throughout this period, from the earliest days of photography to the beginning of the 20th century is of particular interest to me.
Currently, I am in the midst of completing the 3rd installment of Belle de Jour, which is inspired and informed by The William Notman Photographic Archives. This new body of work allows viewers to witness and appreciate the extraordinary legacy of the archive and to experience a conversation that transpires between Notman’s remarkable images of women of a certain epoch with contemporary portraits of my own.
In 2016, I produced the first installment of Belle de Jour III and spent a great deal of time studying tens of thousands of nineteenth-century photographic portraits of women produced by the William Notman Studio in Montreal during the Victorian era. The images from Belle de Jour III are inspired by, but not limited to dialoguing with this historical archive. By directly confronting the present with the past, I attempt to find both affinities and differences between these distant modes of female representation. Belle de Jour III examines generational difference, a diverse range of social statuses, and cultural backgrounds. I am applying for a grant to complete Belle de Jour III and to work towards producing a catalogue that will showcase both the historical and contemporary images.