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Isabelle Hayeur

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Biography and artist statement

Born in Montreal in 1969, Isabelle Hayeur lives and works in Quebec, Canada. She holds a Bachelor’s (1997) and a Master’s (2002) degrees in Fine Arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal. As an image-based artist, she is known for her large photographs and her experimental videos. She has also realized several site-specific installations and public art commissions. Her work is situated within a critical approach to the environment, urban development and to social conditions. She is particularly interested in the feelings of alienation, uprooting and disenchantment.

Since the late 1990s, Isabelle Hayeur has been probing the territories she goes through to understand how our contemporary civilizations take over and fashion their environments. She has mostly documented altered landscapes, industrial areas, tourist sites, abandoned places, suburbs and underprivileged regions. She is concerned about the evolution of places and communities in the neoliberal sociopolitical context we currently live in. Her artistic approach examines the relations between nature and culture in a world where their (false) opposition is a dominant ideology that still structures our Western societies. When the utility principle comes to prevail over all other values and the economy becomes sovereign, everything gets viewed as a “resource” to strip or a site to occupy. Her works seek to show how we take possession of territories and beings so as to adapt them to our needs; this instrumental logic tends to invade all fields of human activity today. Her art practice proves to be both political and poetic, with a constant striving to cover her tracks in order to highlight the ambivalence of our relation to the world. At once seductive and disquieting, her images awaken in us an ambiguous feeling that reflects our discomfort and reveals the flaws of a dehumanized system.

Isabelle Hayeur’s works have been widely shown. She participated in many major public shows, such as the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin), the Tampa Museum of Art, at the Canadian Cultural Centre (Paris), at the Casino Luxembourg Forum d’art contemporain, at the Today Art Museum (Beijing), and Akbank Sanat (Istanbul). In 2006, a solo exhibition was devoted to her by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and Oakville Galleries. Featuring a monograph, this exhibition has been shown across Canada. That same year, she took part in the Arles Rencontres internationales de la photographie, in the context of its “Découverte” prize. In 2010 and 2014, her work was included in the Canadian Biennial at the National Gallery of Canada.

Hayeur has also actively participated in international artists’ residencies, notably at the Rauschenberg Residency (Florida), the International Studio & Curatorial Program ISCP (New York), A Studio in the Woods, Tulane University (New Orleans) and at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha), amongst others. She was also photographer in residence at the the Wall House #2 Foundation (Groningen), L’Espace Photographique Contretype (Brussels), La Chambre (Strasbourg), at Diaphane (Picardie, France), at Centre VU and L’Espace F in Quebec.

Her works are to be found in some 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, 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.