Moyra Davey

Hemlock Forest, 2016
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
19.10.2016 – 15.01.2017

Over the past 30 years, Moyra Davey has produced an extraordinary and increasingly influential body of work comprising photographs, writings and video. By turning her camera towards the unseen or the overlooked, the artist strives to lay bare fragments of daily life and the effects of time’s passage. Dust, old diaries, a pile of newspapers, a record collection, five years’ worth of empty liquor bottles: all of these seemingly banal artifacts become protagonists in Davey’s artistic praxis. Bearing witness to the intimate details of Davey’s personal life, they reveal their inherent, quiet beauty and sense of melancholy. Even though a number of films are shot within the confines of the artist’s own apartment, bringing into view her personal belongings, her books, her pictures, her sisters and her son, it is hard to discern how well one gets to know Davey. She offers her autobiographical information in a restrained, off-handed way, leaving the viewer with the feeling that she has omitted much more than she lets us see. What has been included, however, has been done so after careful and deliberate consideration. Her belongings serve as isolated indications, rendering their elusiveness even more acute. In stark contrast to the hectic rhythm of contemporary life, Davey chooses to slow things down, avoiding spectacle and focusing on process and change.

Hemlock Forest, Davey’s latest film, is premiered in Le Grand Balcon. In this new project, the artist revisits her 2011 video Les Goddesses, pursuing her investigation of motherhood, loss, the epistolary and questions of representation. Partly shot in Montréal and featuring the artists’ sisters, it is also an homage to Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman’s film News from Nowhere Home.
—PP

Hemlock Forest is co-commissioned and co-produced by La Biennale de Montréal and Bergen Kunsthall.

Biography