Vicky Sabourin. What the fragrant lilies are trying to cover up

Curatorial : Anne-Marie St-Jean Aubre

From October 2 2021 to May 15 2022

About —

What are the impulses that awaken our remembrance and bring memories—images, sounds, scents—to the surface? Artist Vicky Sabourin has had several experiences of grief over the past few years, which have led her to examine the process of reminiscence. What has held her attention are the ephemeral and intangible scents that fade over time. Through a series of symbolic objects, collected by her uncle and grandmother and retrieved from their homes after their death, Sabourin has reproduced an intimate, domestic olfactory landscape that is on the verge of disappearing. Imaginary projections and family stories come together in a poetic text in which the artist describes her relationship to death, the emotions it evokes, and the comfort she finds in surrounding herself with these physical traces, thereby preserving them.


In turn, Sabourin invites herself into your world through her deeply sensitive text, objects, and a collection of scents, all brought together in a box that can be borrowed from the Musée d’art de Joliette to experience at home. She encourages us to share an intimate moment through scents you can inhale or wear, objects you can touch, words you can read and hear. Each of our senses is activated in this project, which is both a work of art and a performance to enact at home. Unfolding over several months, the project will mark its half-way point (Sunday March 13) with Sabourin’s performance BREATHE part 1, and will conclude in the summer of 2022 with an exhibition of one of the boxes from this same body of work.


The past 18 months have been marked by a significant number of deaths linked to COVID 19, and it is vital that we take the time to stop and reflect on the fragility of life and the things we can do to protect it. Sabourin’s project reminds us that, sometimes, sharing what is most private to us in an honest and unfiltered way allows us to more deeply connect with others and to revive, through our emotions, what we all have in common.


How to participate

Several options are available to those who want to experience this project at home. Simply borrow the box, for free, from the reception desk at the entrance to the museum. Three boxes are available and can be borrowed for up to two weeks, after which they must be returned to the museum. One box will remain on site for those who prefer to explore it during their visit (a space has been reserved specifically for this purpose). The artist has entrusted her work to the public so that they may experience it in their homes; we ask that you honour this gesture of good faith. When you return the box, please allow a few moments for the contents to be verified by our staff.

Biography —

Vicky Sabourin lives and works in Montreal. She holds a Master’s in visual arts from Concordia University. As a multidisciplinary artist noted for her immersive and performative installations where death or other traumatic events are often at the genesis of the narrative of her work. Resilience manifests itself in the work providing a strong alchemical power that transcends personal and intergenerational trauma. Her work has been presented in art galleries, museums, and artist-run centres in Canada, the United States, and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions of her work include Sugar Cakes (AdMare, QC), Colts Raisin (Atelier B, QC) Becoming Invisible (Latitude 53, AB), Les Curiosités (Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, QC) and Danse Macabre (L’Oeil de Poisson, Quebec, and Sporobole, Sherbrooke, QC). Her exhibition Warmblood has been exhibited across the country at Galerie Trois Points (Montreal, QC), Eastern Edge Gallery (St John’s, NL), Struts Gallery (Sackville, NB), Hamilton Artists Inc. (Hamilton, ON), and Access Gallery (Vancouver, BC). In 2017, Sabourin’s piece Lac caché (The Hidden Lake) was part of the event Manif d’art 8, Biennale d’art contemporain du Québec, presented at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. In December 2014, she was named emerging artist of the year by the newspaper La Presse and was a finalist for the Pierre Ayot Award. She is a recipient of grants from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. Sabourin teaches at Concordia University in the Department of Studio Arts (Photography).


Image in the banner:
Vicky Sabourin, Le Coffret (Golden Hour) (détail), 2021