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Rosalie Favell: Living Evidence

Artist: Rosalie Favel

Themes: Photography

MSVU Art Gallery Entrance
MSVU Art Gallery Entrance

MSVU Art Gallery
Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery Entrance

Rosalie Favell
(b. 1958 Winnipeg, MB; lives in Winnipeg, MB)

Living Evidence 1994
21 colour photographs with electrical tape and felt marker inscription on black mat with paper photo corners, from a suite of 23.
Each panel: 61 x 50.5 cm
Gift of the artist, 2010
Mount Saint Vincent University Collection

They look like typical snapshots, silly and carefree. Two friends mug for the camera. They smile. So why have these Polaroids been enlarged and mounted with photo corners as if in a room-sized family album? Why are the eyes masked off with tape, and what is the meaning of those heartfelt inscriptions scrawled right across the emulsion?

Rosalie Favell exposed these images by holding the camera at armís length while she and her lover enjoyed a happy moment. Once the affair was over, Favell looked for a way to express her pain artistically. She faced two difficult decisions: She would have to Ďcome outí if the work were exhibited publicly, and she would have to force those Kodak-moment mementos, the only remaining evidence of the relationship, to tell a story that the snapshot genre is ill-equipped to tell. Both decisions would entail violation and risk.

When MSVU Art Gallery was preparing to exhibit the Living Evidence suite in 1994, a media-relations staffer wondered whether it was truly necessary to use “the L-word” in publicity. Anticipation of a homophobic reception also motivated Favellís perfunctory gesture of concealing the identity of her former lover. The taping of the eyes reveals more than it conceals; it effectively Ďoutsí the self-censorship that attends artistic production by lesbians and other artist who engage in representations of difference.

Favellís photographs are her first self-portraits; they follow her earlier attempts to reclaim a First Nations identity by photographing aboriginal women. Truthful and brave, Living Evidence exhibits the appealing vulnerability that continues to characterize this artistís photo-based work.

Rosalie Favell received her Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson Polytechnic in 1984.

From “too small too big” by I. Jenkner

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