To launch the 2016-2017 season, Galerie Hugues Charbonneau is pleased to present its first solo exhibition by Isabelle Hayeur. She will be presenting Desert Shores (Lost America) (2015-2016), a new series documenting the polluted and deserted region of Salton Sea, in the United States. Hayeur has selected five photographs from this vast body of work, as well as a 35-minute video and an album of 60 other photos from the series for on-site consultation.
Salton Sea is a large salt lake located on the San Andreas Fault, in an arid depression in South-western California, 227 feet below sea level. It was accidentally created at the beginning of the last century when the Colorado River overflowed its banks and was contained. In the 1950s and 1960s, it became a very popular attraction, and a paradise for fishing aficionados. Its shores were dotted with numerous hotels, marinas, and yacht clubs. Named Desert Shores, the area underwent significant economic and population growth at this time.
Towards the 1970s, it was observed that the lake’s water level was dropping and its salinity rising, in direct relationship with the augmentation of agricultural activity in the surrounding area. Today, this area is deserted and desolate, alluvial deposits saturated with fertilizers and pesticides pollute the water, and algae blooms are decimating fish stocks. Beachside resorts have given way to trailer parks, homes for the poor, the marginalized and Mexican immigrants – a different and less than shining portrait of the United States. For Hayeur, this disenchanted landscape is a mirror image of a lost America, from an era in which everything seemed possible and accessible for all citizens. This area of dire poverty is not unlike others, found all across the United States, a Third World of their own where the most destitute remain, for lack of a better alternative. The works in Desert Shores (Lost America) are fragments of dystopian landscape, modern ruins, dilapidated and graffiti-covered domestic spaces, dried-up fish carcasses and disturbingly coloured bodies of water, summing up a wasteland of human failure at nature’s expense.
Isabelle Hayeur’s work has been widely shown in many major shows, such as at the Ryerson Image Centre (Toronto) (2016);theMuseo Cultural (Santa Fe) (2016);theToday Art Museum (Beijing) (2015); the New Orleans Museum of Art(2015); the Centre culturel canadien (Paris) (2012); the Akbank Sanat (Istanbul) (2008); the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (2007); the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2006); the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin) (2005); the Casino Luxembourg Forum d’art contemporain (2005); and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (2004). Her works are to be found in over twenty collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, the Fonds national d’art contemporain in Paris, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery, theCanadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.