ELLEPHANT PRESENTS “The Look”
From September 9 to October 21, 2023
Montreal, September 6, 2023 – As part of the 18th edition of MOMENTA Biennale de l’image, ELLEPHANT is proud to present The Look: Evergon, Emmanuelle Léonard and JJ Levine, an exhibition bringing together three generations of important photographers based in Montreal, whose work is presented together for the very first time. The Look features a series of selected photographic portraits of subjects staring directly at the viewer with a confrontational gaze.
The opening will take place on Saturday, September 9, 2023, from 2 to 5 pm, and the presentation of the artists will begin at 3 pm. Also, on the occasion of Gallery Weekend Montreal, the public is invited to a Cocktail Hour conversation with Evergon and JJ Levine on September 29, 2023, from 5:30 to 6 pm, to explore the photographs featured in the exhibition.
“Once the language and bond of eye contact is established, it should be cherished. Savour the knowing looks, the love and understanding that exists without a single word, and the intimacy built on nothing but glances and stares.” — Christine Redfern, Curator and Director at ELLEPHANT
(b. 1946) is the winner of the 2023 Governor General Award in Visual and Media Art, the highest honour awarded for the visual arts in Canada. The Look presents seven artworks from the artist’s best known series created over his 50 + year career. Intimate photos from the celebrated Ramboys Series: Joe in Front of Glads, 1993 and Ramboy Offering Polaroid of Self Exposed in Hiding, 1996; alongside an early Polaroid Tim with Parrots, 1983; and two images from the artist’s important series of photographs of his mother, Ramba Mama with Umbrella 1, 1991 and Cowgirl: Margaret on Rockinghorse, 2003. The theatrical side of Evergon’s corpus is on view in the two playful historical mise-en-scène: Pierrot, dit Karlito (d’après Watteau), 2021, and Homage to Gustave Klimt: Old Hope, 2015. These photographs were recently included in the major solo retrospective Evergon – Theatres of the Intimate, curated by Bernard Lamarche and presented at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in 2022-2023.
(b. 1971) has four photographs on view in The Look. Ranger at Night and Soldier at Night are from a body of work undertaken by the artist in 2018 as part of Operation NUNALIVUT during a research residency in Canada’s Far North sponsored by the Canadian Forces Artists Program. This series is on tour as a solo exhibition, titled Deployment, curated by Louise Déry, and can currently be seen at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris until November 14, 2023. The two other works by Emmanuelle Léonard are from the series The Annunciation, created in 2008. Showing a bald eagle and two caged female wolves, the photographs reflect the lives of the women incarcerated in the Joliette Prison, the only federal penitentiary for women who serve sentences of over two years in Quebec. Both series capture the hierarchies within our social, judiciary, military and religious systems that Emmanuelle Léonard has consistently explored through her lens over the past two decades.
(b. 1984) contributes four never-before-exhibited works to The Look. These new photographs are part of his ongoing series Queer Portraits, started in 2006, in which he photographs the individuals, couples and children in his queer community, members of an extended chosen family. JJ Levine’s portraits are grounded in deep feelings of friendship and pride, along with a radical opposition to sexual and gender normativity. The artist contributes to visual representations of alternative, queer and trans family structures, as seen in his major museum retrospective, titled Queer Photographs, curated by Hélène Samson and presented at the McCord Stewart Museum in 2023. His art can also be seen in the exhibition Love Me Gender, currently on view at the Musée de la civilisation in Québec City until April 14, 2024; and in the upcoming exhibition Real Families: Stories of Change at the Fitzwilliam Museum, England, where his photographs hang alongside works by Lucien Freud, Tracey Emin and Albrecht Dürer.
Make Your Own Portraits
Throughout the exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity to take their own pictures in the gallery’s Media Room, specially set up as a portrait studio for the occasion, in a décor designed by Evergon inspired by his eccentric, theatrical universe.
Founded in 2015, ELLEPHANT represents established and internationally renowned contemporary artists who address social, environmental and technological currents. Open to diversity and mindful of the Anthropocene, we provoke encounters between diverse analog, digital, traditional, immersive and interactive art forms. ELLEPHANT’s mission is to support and promote post-digital, inclusive, post-colonial, feminist and ecological art. Located on Peace Park in Montréal, in the former Red Light district, ELLEPHANT is part of the renowned cultural sector of the Quartier des Spectacles.