Julie Favreau. The Intuitions

Curators : Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre and Marianne Cloutier

From September 30 2023 to January 14 2024

About —

The first solo exhibition since 2018 dedicated to the recent work of Québec artist Julie Favreau, Les intuitions [The Intuitions] brings together video, photo installations, and sculptural works, most of which are being presented in Québec for the first time.

Since 2019, issues around artificial intelligence—the disconcerting relationship between cognition, machine, humanity, and sensations—have fascinated Julie Favreau and fuelled her practice. While the prosthesis as an extension of the body or a tool to amplify its senses has been a recurring motif in her work, its focus now includes the potential effects of a new technological era on our bodies. Favreau is particularly inspired by the Italian philosopher Federico Campagna, the author of Technic and Magic: The Reconstruction of Reality (2018), and A Sermon for the Parents of Young Machines (2020). Both texts are speculative studies that explore potential interactions between humans and machines: a creator/creature parental relationship, a master/student authoritarian relationship, a pleasurable relationship, or one with a spiritual dimension. Campagna proposes that every relationship comprises both an erotic dimension—the pursuit of mutually gratifying pleasure—and an enlightening, spiritual dimension that contributes to the growth and betterment of each participant. This is the fertile ground in which we can interpret Favreau’s production from the past three years.

In this exhibition, Julie Favreau’s approach involves speculating on the potential emancipation or empowerment of a type of technological intelligence with which we’d need to learn to communicate. Her recent work illustrates this quest for a new language: in her videos, every gesture seems to be the foundation of a vocabulary that allows humans to interact with a thing—a blob portrayed at different points in its evolution—that corresponds to the imaginary materialisation of this parallel intelligence. Sidestepping the trap of depicting a dystopian or utopian world, Favreau’s characters move through a familiar natural environment that locates them in the not-too-distant future. Other forms of intelligence—namely from plants and animals—already coexist alongside human intelligence. The latest addition is artificial intelligence, whose rapid advances give rise to many ethical questions that aren’t entirely different from the challenges raised by cohabiting with other living species that are essential to maintaining human existence as we know it. Julie Favreau believes it’s worth considering these issues from the point of view of their effects on the body, which is why her videos aren’t so much narratives as they are embodied sensorial experiences, one of which has been produced in virtual reality for those who want to experience the artist’s first foray into the medium.


Biography —

Julie Favreau (she/her) is a Quebec artist who lives and works between Montreal and Berlin. Through her films, sculptures and photographs, she creates futuristic scenarios in which the protagonists participate in shared rituals. Her latest projects bear witness to the many ethical questions raised by today’s technological upheavals. These questions are posed through a sensory/embodied and spiritual approach. We meet people who interact with an emerging entity that Favreau conceives of as a Hyperobject (Timothy Morton). This is an ever-evolving physical embodiment of what is ubiquitous, real to all: an artificial intelligence, a virus, a body without organs.

A selection of her recent exhibitions and research residencies includes: Rupert (Lithuania); Organ vida-Zagreb photo biennial (Croatia); Sporobole-PRIM (Quebec); Schwartzsche Villa (Berlin); Edinburgh Art Festival, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Actoral (France); Arsenal Contemporary (New York); House of Egorn (Gallery Weekend, Berlin); Casino du Luxembourg; Blue Star Contemporary (Texas); Galerie im Marstall (Hamburg, Germany); La BF15 (Lyon, France); Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Canada); Darling Foundry (Montreal, Canada); Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (Canada); Mac Quinta Normal (Chile); as well as several local fairs.

Julie Favreau moved to Berlin on the occasion of a national competition, granting her a one-year residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien (2017). She was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Prize in 2018 and in 2012; and is the winner of the Prix Pierre-Ayot 2014 and the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Grant (2012).  Her work has been reviewed in The Guardian, Magenta, Hyperallergic, Canadian Art, Taz, Berliner Zeitung, Momus, among others.

Favreau earned a BFA in moving image creation, video performance and «Nouvelle Vague» cinema (UQAM-2001-2005). She then trained as a self-taught choreographer in Canada and France, taking part in numerous workshops at leading institutions, and becoming actively involved in the choreographed performance and dance scene. Favreau holds a master’s degree in sculpture (Concordia-2012).

Her film “This Thing” was created and produced under the curatorship of Aseman Sabet, with A.I.Ship (Harvard& Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics) and ETH Zürich-Bioethics – Health Ethics and Policy Lab.

Images in the banner:

Julie Favreau, Sensing Shifts, 2023. Photo: Ysabelle Latendresse

Julie Favreau, Archaeological Piece One, 2023. Photo: Ysabelle Latendresse

Julie Favreau, Quickening, 2022. Photo: Ysabelle Latendresse

© Julie Favreau, still image from the work Sensing Shifts, 2023. Performers: Bozna, Hubert Lagin et Bea Xu