The exhibition Le lys de ta peau [The Lily of your Skin] is a continuation of the project Ce que les lys odorants tentent de camoufler [What the fragrant lilies are trying to cover up], in which visitors to the Musée d’art de Joliette were invited to experience, at the Musée or at home, a box of scents created by Vicky Sabourin.
In the wake of several deaths within her circle of family and friends over the past four years, Sabourin became interested in the evocative power of scents, which, despite their intangible and ephemeral nature, have the ability to stimulate our memory. First elaborated in the form of a collection of fragrances to which she added a personal narrative in the form of an artist book, the project’s newest iteration includes photographs, textile works, and sculptures presented in the common areas of the MAJ.
These works act as memento mori—material traces that remind us of life’s fleeting nature. Some are inspired by the personal possessions of her loved ones, discovered as she emptied the house shared by her grandmother and uncle: a bluish sheer curtain from her grandmother’s bedroom; a patterned curtain from her uncle’s room, permeated with the particular odor of sweat and tobacco smoke; a wrought-iron grill ornamented with photographs, a note, and greenery, found in the basement. Others, like a lock of white hair, a bouquet of lilies, and a sculpture reminiscent of a traditional funerary mask—this time in the shape of her grandmother’s hand rather than her face—are associated with her experience of grief, the intensity of which she seeks to immobilize. By choosing to create these pieces with clay or ceramics, she evokes the fragile and evanescent quality of our memories, whose vividness tends to recede with the passage of time. Unfired clay will crumble over time, and ceramic, despite its hardness, remains fundamentally vulnerable.
With this project, Vicky Sabourin 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.Read wall labels
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).
The artist thanks the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association for their support.
Images in the banner:
Vicky Sabourin, The Lily of your Skin [Le lys de ta peau]. Views from the exhibition, Musée d’art de Joliette, 2022. Photo: Ysabelle Latendresse