Anne-Marie Ouellet. Cohesion. An Inquiry on Group Making

Guest curator : Véronique Leblanc

From June 11 2023 to September 4 2023

About —

‟An inquiry isn’t so much about describing an experience as it about making it exist.
As such, any inquiry is first and foremost an experiment.”

– Vinciane Despret

Since 2019, Anne-Marie Ouellet has been interested in how we take part in collective projects. What incites us to create or join an association, a collective, a community, or to work collaboratively? What keeps us in a group, what binds or connects us? What is the uniting principle behind these initiatives: an activity, a practice, an identity, a cause, a need? Through small group experiments, knowledge-sharing activities, and a series of interviews, Anne-Marie Ouellet examines how groups, whether informal or organized, generate a feeling of belonging, and how these groups influence our activities, behaviours, emotions, and ideas.

At the core of the exhibition, these investigations unfold through a performative installation titled Cohesion. Intended to be viewed or experienced alone or as a group, the artwork takes the form of a temporary gathering place with a variable composition. It is a moment in the process, an invitation to share our current thoughts. A zine and a performance weave together words and gestures from interviews, and interact with the narrative space of the installation. Trying to be and to do things together, to observe group dynamics, to share power, to embody the figure of a group in motion: these offer a new jumble of experiences, between necessities, utopias, loss, care, and solidarity.

In parallel, the exhibition underlines some of the issues Anne-Marie Ouellet’s practice has raised over the past twenty years by connecting a selection of works with traces from several projects that examine collective space. Brought together in a “diagram of a practice,” these elements are organized according to the links that were established between the strategies or subjects of certain projects, but mainly in terms of their ongoing relationship with Cohesion. This diagram underlines the methods, motives, and questions that occur throughout her entire work and that are reflected in the collaborations and speculative gestures that define her current investigations. Grounded in the experimentation of actions in social space and on creating narratives out of these inquiries—especially through drawing, performance, the creation of uniforms, video, and photography—Anne-Marie Ouellet’s works invite us to inhabit our imaginings of communality.


Biography —

Anne-Marie Ouellet is a multidisciplinary artist originally from Rimouski. She currently lives and works in Montréal. Through her projects, she examines the place of the individual and the collective within different social realities. Her projects are based on a practice of inquiry, drawing, and the creation of uniforms, and manifest themselves as performative actions within public space or installations based on collaborative processes. Ouellet is particularly interested in the standardization of lifestyles, in notions of community, and the sharing of knowledge.

Anne-Marie Ouellet holds a Master’s degree in Visual and Media Arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal (2011). She has presented her work in solo and group exhibitions and has participated in art events and residencies in Canada, France, Germany, and Austria. She is involved in the artistic and cooperative milieu, and occasionally teaches visual art at the college level.

Véronique Leblanc is an independent curator, author, lecturer, and cultural worker. Her research currently looks at the common imaginary in contemporary art through an ensemble of artistic practices that combine collaborative and performative approaches with documentary strategies. Some of her most recent exhibitions include Franchissements (Galerie UQO, 2021-2022), Les histoires nécessaires | Instrumental Stories (Galerie d’art Louise-et-Reuben-Cohen and the Musée acadien de l’Université de Moncton, 2019), Chto Delat? Pratiques performatives de notre temps (Vox, 2018), Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens. Putting Life to Work (Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montréal, 2016), Polyphonies (Optica, Montréal, 2015), and faire avec (AdMare, Magdelen Islands, 2013). In 2022, she co-curated, with Elise Anne LaPlante, the 7th edition of the ORANGE Triennial, with an artistic and community-based project titled Cultiver l’humilité | M8jagen piwihozw8gan | Cultivating Humility. She views the exhibition projects she initiates and the pedagogical adventures she is involved in as opportunities for shared learning.

Performances —

June 11, 3 p.m. | June 22, 4:30 p.m. | September 3, 1 p.m.
No reservation required

The artist and the curator thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Centre SAGAMIE.


Image in the banner:

Views from the exhibition at the Musée d’art de Joliette, 2023. Photo: Ysabelle Latendresse