Isabelle Hayeur

Fucus vesiculosus



Original work
150 x 151 cm

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265, rue Lindsay, Drummondville

Description of the work

Fucus vesiculosus is part of the Underworlds photographic series, which aims to portray water pollution and the depletion of marine biodiversity caused by human activity. For her project, artist Isabelle Hayeur relied on an underwater housing to plunge her camera into waterways and capture them from the inside. This unfamiliar perspective creates a close connection with the sites she photographs. The horizon line at two thirds of the composition amplifies the sense of submersion. The results are as captivating as they are disturbing, like this image taken in the St. Lawrence River, near Trois-Pistoles. The pollution is discernible by its cloudy character and the debris, particles and impurities floating around. In the middle of the image is brown algae, Fucus vesiculosus, commonly known as bladder wrack, sea grapes or sea oak. The photograph was selected for the Musée à ciel ouvert by the Grantham Foundation for the Arts and the Environment.

Isabelle Hayeur

About the artist

Born in 1969 in Montréal, Isabelle Hayeur lives and works in Rawdon (Québec). She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in fine arts from Université du Québec à Montréal. While best known for her large-scale photographs and experimental videos, she also creates in situ installations, public art and photography books. 

Since the late 1990s, she has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions that total an impressive number of public events every year. Her works have been on view around the world and in internationally renowned museum institutions such as the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein in Berlin, the Bruce Silverstein Gallery in New York, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, the Today Art Museum in Beijing and the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.

Isabelle Hayeur has taken part in several artist residencies in the United States and the Netherlands. She received the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award (2021), as well as the Duke and Duchess of York Prize in Photography (2019). Her work is part of several private and public collections, including those assembled by the National Gallery of Canada, the Fonds national d’art contemporain (France), the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.

Artistic approach

Since the late 1990s, Isabelle Hayeur has been exploring different territories to understand how our contemporary civilizations inhabit and shape their environments. Political and poetic, her practice is an environmental, urban and social critique. “My work seeks to show how we take possession of territories and beings and adapt them to our needs. This instrumental logic tends to permeate all fields of human activity today,” she explained. 

For the photographer, creation is as much a tool for awareness as a source of wonder. Through her work, she makes it her duty to pronounce, show, educate and denounce without that preventing her from being enchanted, touched and carried away by the beauty that surrounds her. The committed artist will therefore turn her camera towards a residential neighborhood on the South Shore of Montréal, a group of environmental activists, forest fires in British Columbia or even a boat graveyard on Staten Island.

Isabelle Hayeur imagined Underworld, the large format photography project from which Fucus vesiculosus is taken, after observing the degradation of the Mille-Îles River near her home over the past twenty years. The first images in the series were taken in 2008 during a stay in Florida. Since then, she has become a specialist in underwater photography, capturing dozens of changing marine ecosystems, including the Louisiana bayous, the Gulf of Mexico and New York Bay.

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