In a reversal of the 1960’s slogan, “The Personal Is Political” Gabrielle de Montmollin suggests that politics is personal in her new series Stephen Harper Hates Me. Blending news photographs with images borrowed from her drawings and staged photographs de Montmollin shows how Harper’s inimical attitude towards artists and others he despises has shaped the art she makes and the life she lives. This series of mixed media works on paper is funny, blunt and provocative.
He haunts her artist’s studio and cavorts in menacing and satiric ways with the dolls that were once de Montmollin’s dominant artistic focus. “I wanted people to see Harper’s contempt for the ordinary person as well as for the artist,” de Montmollin says. “And I wanted to use humour as a sharp tool to make my point.”
(from the essay "The Fantastic, Fearless and Furious World of Gabrielle de Montmolllin," written by Susan Swan to accompany the exhibition)
Born in Toronto, Gabrielle de Montmollin began her career in television and film but moved on to still photography once she discovered it was the medium best suited to her unique vision and independent nature. For many years she worked exclusively with black and white film photographing throwaway plastic toys and dolls arranged in constructed, fantasy settings. Recently she has been working with mixed media blending painting, drawing and montage elements with digital prints. In addition, over the past three years, her focus has shifted from the recording of personal imaginings to finding visual expression of her feelings about social justice issues and politics.
Susan Swan is a Toronto writer and activist who has written about Stephen Harper’s government and the arts. Her newest novel is The Western Light, published by Cormorant Books in 2012.