Canadian Art

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Eduardo Ralickas: The Many Equivalences of Raymonde April

Various locations, Montreal Jan 9 to Mar 6 2010
Raymonde April’s studio with images from <i>Équivalences 1–4</i>  2010 Raymonde April’s studio with images from Équivalences 1–4 2010

Raymonde April’s studio with images from <i>Équivalences 1–4</i> 2010

Since the late 1970s, Montreal artist Raymonde April has made a definitive study of the representational issues embedded in photographic image-making. From series of snapshot self-portraits to obsessive views of lived space, her work draws out the poetic structures hidden in everyday life, creating visual networks where the momentary transcends into the monumental. Now, that working process is at the centre of a group of Montreal exhibitions—hosted by Occurrence, Galerie Donald Browne and Les Territoires—collectively titled “Équivalences 1–4.” Here, curator Eduardo Ralickas chats with Canadian Art’s Bryne McLaughlin about April’s enduring practice, its relationship to language and the spatial strategies that shed new light on her working method.


Bryne McLaughlin: What initially drew you to April’s work and to thinking about this project?


Eduardo Ralickas: I’ve always admired Raymonde’s work. While a lot of curated shows have framed it in very original ways, there has always seemed to me to be something about language that is very specific and singular in her practice. I don’t think that has ever really been addressed.

So when I approached her with the idea, we started by speaking about how images create meaning. In her work she is creating meaning in the same way that language creates meaning—with structured systems where elements are purposefully opposed to one another…the whole Saussurian semiotics thing that was very popular in the 1970s. The difference is that she is doing this by establishing spatial relationships. In her photo installations, she is actually dealing with elements that make sense not only because they are opposed but because they are composed.

I’ve known Raymonde for many years and she keeps saying, “I always make the same shows; I’m always making the same series.” So my premise for these exhibitions was as follows: If you are always making the same series, you are composing images to have an overall meaning that is pretty much equivalent. If that is true, can we do three shows where the visual elements are different but are connected by a linguistic premise?

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This article was first published online on February 4, 2010.

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