Focus on the collection: Isabelle Hayeur

Isabelle Hayeur, Mississippi 2, 2013. Inkjet print, mounted on aluminum.

Isabelle Hayeur, Mississippi 2, 2013. Inkjet print, mounted on aluminum, 158.1 x 121 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © Isabelle Hayeur. Photo: NGC

 

Image-based artist, Isabelle Hayeur expresses her concerns regarding the use and exploitation of land through photography and experimental video, taking a critical approach to the environment, urban development, and social conditions.1

Beautiful at first glance, Hayeur’s photographic work captivates viewers with its pared-down attention to textures, limited colour palettes and simple compositions. Upon closer examination, however, the unsettling and haunting effects of environmental devastation emerge.

Isabelle Hayeur, Nadia, 2004. Inkjet print, mounted on aluminum.

Isabelle Hayeur, Nadia, 2004. Inkjet print, mounted on aluminum, 108.9 x 157 cm. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. © Isabelle Hayeur. Photo: NGC

 

The Gallery’s selection of photographic works by Hayeur come from various series, reflecting the artist’s interest in the impact of urbanization on the environment. In her images, Hayeur explores different types of sites to demonstrate how profoundly human activity has affected the landscape.

Nadia is a commentary on the impact suburban neighbourhoods have had on nature, while Mississippi 2 confirms the years of environmental concerns on the waterways caused by human intervention. Hayeur’s photographs are visually jarring, making viewers uncomfortably aware of things they tend to overlook, while also evoking a feeling of discomfort and distress when confronted by a flawed system and continued environmental destruction.2

Beyond her critique of urban environments, the artist’s current approach is moving increasingly towards activism. “Think globally, act locally,” is the mindset she tries to incorporate into her practice through her involvement in her community.She believes that it is important to take a stand and educate people, and she uses her artistic practice as a tool to raise awareness, while also capturing the tragically beautiful environment that surrounds us.

Learn more . . .

Biography

Based in the Montreal area, Isabelle Hayeur began her artistic practice in media arts, obtaining an M.F.A. in Visual Arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2002. Her work takes a critical approach to the environment and urban development and, since the late 1990s, the artist has expanded her photographic practice through images of building sites, waste ground, and exploited land in a critique of the treatment of the environment in North America.4

About the Author

Jennifer Tang is pursuing a Master’s degree in Film and Photo Preservation and Collections Management at X University (formerly Ryerson) in Toronto.

 


1 “Isabelle Hayeur,” Isabelle Hayeur website. Accessed September 27 2021. https://isabelle-hayeur.com/biographie_eng/

2 Serge Bérard, “Inhabiting: The Works of Isabelle Hayeur,” Oakville Galleries website. 2006. Accessed September 27, 2021. http://www.oakvillegalleries.com/site/static/digitalarchivefileuploads/47/0606-Isabelle_Hayeur.pdf

3 Ibid.

4 “Isabelle Hayeur, Biography,” VOX website. Accessed September 27, 2021. http://centrevox.ca/en/artiste/isabelle-hayeur/  

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