Insectes du Surinam 19
Photograph, giclée print on Hahnemühle Photo RagMD paper
81 x 69 cm
154, rue Lindsay, Drummondville
Description of the work
This work is from the Insects of Surinam series (2011–2019), which Dominique Paul began after discovering Maria S. Merian’s book of the same title. In the 17th century, the German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator led seminal work to identify the phases of insect metamorphosis. Paul first printed the engravings of her botanical plates and then made collages with photos cut from magazines. She mainly used images of bodybuilders, which she merged with the insects and plants from the original plate to create hybrid beings. In this work, there are also military airplane bugs. Animal and human metamorphosis, our relationship to the body, genetic manipulation, territorial conquest and human domination over the environment are among the themes that run through her work. After lighting her collages, the artist photographed them through recycled containers to animate the white background and simulate a natural setting. The technique gives her compositions a dreamlike atmosphere—unreal, strange, and poetic—as she attempts to rekindle our relationship to the living.
About the artist
Born in Montréal, Dominique Paul is a multidisciplinary artist. She is active both in visual arts and performance art. Through her work, she addresses social issues such as the rise of social inequalities, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss.
As part of her master’s degree at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, she presented her research at a symposium at Barnard College, which is affiliated with Columbia University, in New York City. There, she discovered the metropolis and witnessed the gentrification and exodus of artists that inspired her public performances. Since 2012, she has often spent time in New York during artistic residencies and has taken part in over twenty exhibitions and events, including UnHomeless NYC at the Kingsborough Art Museum and Mapping Life at the NJCU Visual Arts Gallery. She has also presented videos at 10 Times Square and the Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, which represents her.
Dominique Paul has exhibited in Europe, mainly in France in the Lyon area and at the Paris Photo fair. She participated in two international exhibitions in China, at the Beijing International Art Biennale and Montréal art contemporain in Shanghai. In 2023, she will have a solo exhibition at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington DC, which, like the Smithsonian Collection, acquired her works. In 2019, she published an essay inspired by her doctoral dissertation at Université du Québec à Montréal entitled Entre chair et lumière – De la possibilité d’une distance critique par l’objet-image published by Éditions L’Harmattan.
Dominique Paul’s approach is divided into two distinct but complementary practices that both echo social and environmental issues. One is performative: the engaged artist builds structures she carries in performances. For example, in the Migrations of the Anthropods series (2012), she transformed herself into an insect wandering around New York City thanks to luminous assemblages of plastic bottles she used to float in the East River. She was thus prepared in case the water suddenly rose.
Her other practice enables her to create a symbiotic relationship with nature: with the Insects of Surinam series (2011–2019), she merged human body parts and consumer objects with plants and insects to create hybrid beings. Weighed down by human flesh, the plants become metaphors for the pressure humans exert on other species’ habitats.
In 2020, Dominique Paul began a series of mixed media works representing endangered bird species in Québec and North America, which she called Damoiseaux. The project facilitates cultural mediation activities to raise awareness of the consequences of our lifestyles on nature and biodiversity. In her most recent project, she addressed the issue of gentrification by displaying the median household income and air quality as she walked through the streets of New York City.