April 23 – June 7, 2020
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Curator: Mona Filip
A Primary Exhibition of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Carol Sawyer is a visual artist, performer and singer based in Vancouver whose work has been concerned with the connection between truth, fiction, performance, memory and history. Sawyer’s ongoing series, The Natalie Brettschneider Archive, reconstructs the fictional life and work of a historical, genre-blurring artist through documentary materials and visual records. The imagined narrative is interwoven with references to real people and places that Sawyer has uncovered in her research process. The archive begins with Brettschneider’s childhood in British Columbia, continues through her participation in the Parisian avant-garde between the wars, and includes evidence of her unconventional art practices after she returns to BC in the late 1930s.
A feminist critique of art historical conventions, the Archive illuminates what official accounts exclude, examining the use of photography in supporting cultural assumptions about gender, age, authorship and art-making. With an intersectional framework, the exhibition brings forward real historical artists through the inclusion of authentic archival materials and new works that link Brettschneider’s narrative to actual events, people and places, highlighting ethnically-diverse creative women who have not yet received wider attention because of racial prejudice, homophobia and sexism.
Image: Carol Sawyer, The Natalie Brettschneider Archive, 2000-ongoing (Natalie Brettschneider performs Profile Mask, Around 1952), Archival ink jet print from original negative, Acquired with the assistance of Kathleen Taylor, 2015.