At the core of Chloé Desjardins’ work lies a marked interest in art history and artistic skills. As a sculptor, she is also sensitive to ideas that can spontaneously emerge when directly handling materials. By playing with reversals, mirroring, and contrasts, Desjardins brings out the symbolic value of materials such as porcelain, bronze, plaster, polystyrene foam, or bubble wrap. For viewers, contemplating Desjardins’ work leads to questioning the conventions of the art world.
Constraints are often the driving force behind Desjardins’ practice. When the Musée d’art de Joliette invited her to create work based on the collection, she turned to Musée’s staff members and their inherent curiosity to provide the spark for her artistic process; delegating, so to speak, the task of making the initial gesture for her new body of work. The MAJ’s curators, registrar, visitor services coordinator, administrative assistant, technician, and communications coordinator selected and described several objects from the collection, which Desjardins responded to by creating twelve works that were conceived as a series of conversations. By doing so, she insists on making collaboration a central element of her creative process. This body of work is an exercise in the playful transposition and translation that stemmed from her interpretation of each description, her exploration of the materiality and forms of the chosen objects, and her research on the artists behind these works. It was also informed by her interest in revealing little-known aspects of the collection, namely the storage of art works in the museum’s vault, thus drawing attention to the constant care they require. This explains, for instance, her use of materials such as non-woven polyethylene (Tyvek) used in preventive conservation, or of shapes that resemble shipping crates and supports with carved out interior voids.
Although randomly selected, the wide range of objects retrieved from the vault present an interesting historical portrait of the MAJ collection. First established for educational purposes by the Clerics of Saint-Viateur at the end of the 19th century, the collection, which brings together natural history specimens, archeological objects, religious heritage pieces, historical and contemporary art works, has progressively focused on the visual arts, under the guidance of Father Wilfrid Corbeil, c.s.v., founder of the Musée d’art du Séminaire, which later became the Musée d’art de Joliette in 1967. This exhibition lets us revisit this history at a time when the MAJ is standardizing its collections in preparation for its future development. It foregrounds the complex nature of maintaining a collection that requires constant efforts, not only in terms of its physical conservation, but also to ensure its relevance as research material.
Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre
Curator of Contemporary Art
Image in the banner:
View of the exhibition Encounters, Chloé Desjardins, Musée d’art de Joliette, 2021. Photo : Romain Guilbault.
Chloe Desjardins completed a Bachelor’s degree in Studio arts at Concordia University and a Master’s degree in creation at the School of Visual and Media Arts at the University of Quebec in Montreal. During this last training, she studied and deepened her knowledge of moulding and casting techniques. Now, sculpture takes up a predominant place in her practice.
Over the last few years, her work has been presented in many cities in Quebec and Canada. Her work is part of several public and private collections. Many times supported by the Quebec Council for the arts and the Canada Council for the arts, she is the recipient of the Plein Sud honorary Grant 2014. She is a member of the board committee of the B- 312 Gallery artist’s run centre and president since 2016.
Chloé Desjardins would like to thank all the people without whom this project, which was truly built through conversations, would not have been possible.
- The entire team of the Musée d’art de Joliette and the Curator Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre
- The participants in the project: Julie Alary Lavallée, Julie Armstrong-Boileau, Camille Blachot, Karine Boivin, Isabel Boucher, Gérard Brisson, Ariane Cardinal, Nathalie Galego, Caroline Pierre, Camille Rémillard-Vigneault, Charlotte Lalou Rousseau et Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre
- The artists Arman, Pierre Ayot, Betty Goodwin, Anne Kahane, Henri Moore, Rober Racine, Morton Rosengarten and all the others whose identity has been lost over time
- The Canada Council for the Arts
- The Avataq Cultural Institute, Candide Harvey and Andrée Anne Vien
- The artists Elisapi Inukpuk and Alicie Kasudluak Niviaxie
- Heather Igloliorte, Jonathan Lainey, and Lisa Qiluqqi Koperqualuk for their invaluable assistance in her research on the Inuit doll
- Kim Savoie-Thibault and Dominic Guibault for their help in choosing a piece of music for the work Colère (2020.014)
- The association Son/Ré and Isabelle Warnier for the special permission to use a musical piece by Pierre Henry for the work Colère (2020.014)
- Violinist Kerson Leong for the special permission to use his beautiful performance of Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata for Solo Violin No. 2 in A minor, Op. 27 ‘À Jacques Thibaud’: I. Obsession (Prelude. Poco vivace) for the work Colère (2020.014)
- Atelier Gris and Frédéric Barette for the realisation of the pieces Chaire and Page-miroir : Débouchement/marché-452-hiver/
- Guillaume Petit for his Chroniques anachroniques which informed the work Mandibule (1975.592)
- The photographer Clément Dietz for the documentation of her works
- Her family and friends