Emily Hermant. Way Broken Twill (from the series Fragments From A Larger Whole), 2019. Collected and stripped telecommunications cables on canvas. Image courtesy of the artist.
Transpositions is the final in a three-part series of exhibitions that explore connections between textiles and technology. Building on the preceding exhibitions Interweavings and Remediations, the artists selected for Transpositions offer an expanded understanding of textile construction. Using non-traditional media such as wire, rubber, photographs, or insulation they transpose the technologies of weaving or braiding onto their chosen materials.
In genetics, ‘transposition’ refers to the transfer of a segment of DNA from one genomic site to another. In music, it refers to copying over a piece of music into a higher or lower key. The process of transferring sets of information inherently contains the potential for variations, glitches and the creation of new meanings. Works by artists Marisa Gallemit, Emily Hermant, Tong Zhou Lafrance, and Caroline Monnet activate this potential through processes of transformation and reconfiguration. Here, the knowledge of specific textile processes and aesthetics are brought into dialogue with materials that contain their own cultural and historical significance.
In Emily Hermant’s series Fragments From A Larger Whole, stripped copper telecommunications wires are meticulously aligned to create motifs that resemble woven textile swatches, complete with frayed thread ‘edges’ that reveal the nature of the source material. Patterns such as twill, checks, stripes and chevrons appear through careful arrangements of the repurposed wires, albeit with subtle irregularities and variations that recall glitches, embedded technological codes or the inherent variations of handmade production. Through this transformation, Hermant evokes the way that information is transmitted and adapted across time and distance, and how knowledge is circulated through technologies old and new.
Tong Zhou Lafrance cuts and reassembles old family photographs, weaving narrow strips into shimmering quasi-pixelated surfaces that emphasize how personal memories and shared cultural forms are distorted through time and representation. Lafrance alters these images as a means to examine their experience as an adoptee from China. By pulling apart memories in order to put them back together again, Lafrance’s works show how different perspectives might coexist within a single frame. More specifically, they are interested in how the story of adoption unfolds past the original event, with a life ‘constructed’ through the lens of before/after. By reworking family archives they exert their own sense of agency across significant memories and moments.
In Caroline Monnet’s ongoing series of woven works, the artist uses construction materials like Tyvek, insulation, and foam to address housing conditions in Indigenous communities. In these places, generic construction and lack of affordable supplies echo broader histories of systemic discrimination and neglect. Monnet uses these humble yet essential materials for their texture, colour and flexibility and adapts them by weaving traditional Anishinaabe patterns passed down through her family. Resembling maps or bar codes, these robust materials support an ongoing transmission of vital cultural information, just as they suggest protective coverings or forms of shelter and new ways of caring for each other.
Marisa Gallemit uses discarded bicycle tubes in her work, transforming this smooth, flexible material into sculptures and installations. For Tethering: Entanglement, Gallemit braided a 100-metre long bicycle tube rope during a durational performance in Dundas–St.Clarens parkette in Toronto. While researching the namesakes of the park, she was struck by the intersecting and contrasting legacies of Henry Dundas, an 18th c. Scottish politician who was instrumental in delaying the abolition of the slave trade and that of Saint Clarence, patron saint of prisoners. Through a slow and arduous process, Gallemit tethers present day material economies to overlooked histories of place.
Just as weaving and braiding can be considered forms of technology, in these artists’ hands, the unique properties of each material shape the way that the manipulation of various ‘threads’ take form. Materials always bring with them their own historical baggage, speaking to legacies of (mis)use, networks of circulation, and the transmission of geographically and culturally situated knowledge. Together, these works reflect and expand upon traditional categories of craft, skill, and making by transposing new meanings onto everyday materials and contexts.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Emily Hermant is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores themes of communication, technology, gendered labour, and craft. She received her BFA from Concordia University in Montréal, QC, and her MFA as a Trustee Merit Scholar in Fiber & Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited in museums, galleries, and festivals in Canada, the United States, South America, and Europe, and been featured in ArtSlant, Espace Sculpture, and TimeOut Chicago. Hermant has been awarded grants from the BC Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Conseil des Arts & Lettres du Québec, and residencies at the Burrard Arts Foundation, Haystack, Ox-Bow School of Art, and The Nordic Artists’ Centre (NKD), among others. Hermant is based in Vancouver, BC, where she is Associate Professor of Sculpture & Expanded Practices in the Audain Faculty of Art at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She is represented by Monte Clark Gallery.
Marisa Gallemit is a Filipina-Canadian visual artist dwelling in the traditional territories of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation, the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat. Through an ongoing exploration of third culture futurity, found objects and their potential energies, her practice leans deeply into Buckminster Fuller’s query: “Now, how do we make this spaceship work?” Since 2009, Gallemit has participated in storytelling and performative works, designed installations for music and art festivals, facilitated art-making workshops, curated community art programs in non-gallery venues, and produced a large-scale public art installation for the City of Mississauga. Marisa Gallemit gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Arts Council and Galerie SAW Gallery.
Tong Zhou Lafrance 童宙 is a multidisciplinary artist and collaborator adopted from China who works in Tiohtià:ke/ Mooniyang (Montreal) in Canada. In 2021, they obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction at Concordia University. Their current artistic practice revolves around the alteration of family and traveling archives to bring forth their agency regarding their transnational migration. Their work has been shown in Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City, namely during the Chinatown Biennial at Whippersnapper Gallery (2021), at FOFA Gallery (2022), at Rad Hourani Foundation Gallery (2021), at Eastern Block (2018) and many others. They are part of Artch’s 5th edition and CRÉER DES PONTS’ 2nd edition both happening in Montreal. For an indefinite period of time, Tong Zhou’s graduate studies at the China Academy of Art (中国美术学院) are entirely remote. In 2022, they co-founded the Soft Gong Collective, the first Francophone organization by and for Chinese Adoptees.
Caroline Monnet is a multidisciplinary artist from Outaouais based in Montreal, born to an Anishinaabe mother and a French father. After studying at the University of Ottawa and the University of Granada in Spain, she pursued a career in visual arts and film. Her work is regularly presented internationally and can also be found in prestigious museums, private and corporate collections. Her practice is often minimalist yet emotionally charged. Monnet has become known for her work with industrial materials, combining the vocabulary of popular and traditional visual cultures with the tropes of modernist abstraction to create unique hybrid forms. She is represented by Blouin Division Gallery.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Nicole Burisch is a curator, critic, and cultural worker. She is a settler of German/Scottish/Irish/English descent, born and raised in Treaty 6 territory (Edmonton, AB) and currently living and working in Tio’tia:ke / Mooniyaang (Montreal, QC). Her projects focus on craft, feminism, performance, publishing, labour, and materiality within contemporary art. Her writing has been published in periodicals No More Potlucks, FUSE Magazine, dpi: Feminist Journal of Art and Digital Culture, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, Cahiers métiers d’art-Craft Journal, and by La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, Stride Gallery, and the Richmond Art Gallery, among others. Her research (with Anthea Black) into curatorial strategies for politically engaged craft practices is included in milestone publications The Craft Reader (Berg) and Extra/ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art (Duke University Press) and together they co-edited The New Politics of the Handmade: Craft, Art and Design (Bloomsbury). Burisch has held positions and presented projects with a number of organizations, including: the National Gallery of Canada, Optica, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, She Works Flexible, Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, Artexte, Walter Phillips Gallery, The New Gallery, Centre des arts actuels Skol, and the Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Festival. She currently works as director of the FOFA Gallery at Concordia University.