Scrivener magazine 2002

Text by Lukas Rieppel published in Scrivener #27, 2003,  p.68-69-87-88-89

Photography

Eve K. Tremblay

Scrivener is proud to publish part of a new series by the photographer Eve K. tremblay.  Completed in 2002,  À la recherche des placebos, has previously been shown at the Gallery Circa in Montreal. Deeply personal and resisting any but the most trivial attempts at classification, these images are both familiar and jarring. They play on themes of psychological association; myth; and a modern re-association, permutation, and interpolation on classic archetypes. Hence, viewing them is dynamic activity. The viewer is as much part of the experience as the images themselves. Like all sophisticated art, the importance of this series derives from the questions that it prompts us to ask ourselves as well as the simple beauty of the pictures themselves

Tremblay’s photographs open a whole world in front of themselves; a world that the viewer largely creates herself. This is a curious effect for a medium usually thought to represent a reality that we all share, but it is exactly what makes Tremblay’s  photographs so compelling. Anyone willing to give her images their due time is incapable of not returning: they preoccupy us like a recurring vision or hallucination.

The pictures from this series are not reassuring – they put us on edge. More than anything else, they pose questions; questions involving the viewer herself, as well as the assumptions which she bring to the viewing process. The most obvious  fact about the three images printed here is how familiar they appear at first glance: somehow, somewhere, we have all seen something like them before. What forces us to stay is that they induce a vague sense that something of what we are looking at is out of place. Although we might not be immediately aware of what , something in these pictures makes just a little bit uncomfortable. It is only upon a personnal analysis of this discomfort that the power in tremblay’s art makes itself felt.

Les amants du Lac Vostok, 2002, C-print, 50x35"

Take Les amants du lac Vostok for exemple. A pair of supple bodies cradled in the snow is reminiscent of pre-natal scenes, perhaps even evoking an association with the image of twins captured by an ultrasound. Of course, their pose is simultaneously charged with an overt sexuality. However, sex and the womb, both intimately connected with warmth, are obviously ill at ease in the same category as snow. When closer inspection further reveals these bodies as surrounded solely by a facsimile of snow (an unnatural plastic substance posing as the building block of life) our initial assumption is problematized to an even more. Again, this is certainly a far cry from any reassuring notions we may have had of sex and conception, not to mention the safety of a mother’s womb. Lest it be inferred that I would restrict the effect of this image as inducing anxiety, allow me to point out that is does retain its unapologetic grace and beauty.

It would be wrong to assign any one particular meaning or interpretation to “ Les amants du Lac Vostok”. However, some basic facts about its title are useful for the sake of a richer understanding. The real Lac Vostok is entombed beneath a permanent sheet of ice in Antarctica. Having evolved a unique ecosystem that contact with the outside word would destroy, all that we can know about this myth-like setting must follow from inference alone. In a sense, Lac Vostok is thus both real and completely fantastic: without the possibility of direct observation for the purpose of either verification or falsification, it really is just what we hypothesize it to be.

In a generalized form, these themes run throughout Tremblay’s series. All three of her images are aberrations of modern archetypes, are part real and part imaginary, and (especially in the case of Adam et Ève fument des cigarettes) exhibit varyng degrees of anachronism. But concepts like archetype, reality, and anachronism make sense only in the context of closely interrelated set of assumptions. Doing so already entails making them explicit, and hence open to modification. Examining Tremblay’s photographs, we cannot help but see something of ourselves glaring back. However, unlike looking in a mirror, pictures such as these show something we had never dreamed was possible.

 Adam et Eve fument des cigarettes, 2001, C-print, 40x50"