Véronique Ducharme’s Encounters
Véronique Ducharme’s Encounters (2012-2013) is an unusual series of animal photographs: candid, uncanny, and at times startling. The hundreds of images, fauna from bears to does and deer, foxes and smaller mammals, were taken with a remote motion-detecting hunting camera that uses heat to trigger the photographic exposure. Ducharme’s artistic endeavour finds authority in the conceptualization of the project, however the artist relinquishes such charge by removing herself from the actual photo-taking process.
In their haphazard composition, over or under exposure, and blurred subjects, this suite of photographs subverts the aesthetic sensibilities of a wildlife photo-vernacular, providing instead an alternative view of the boreal spaces typically unpopulated by humankind. As such, the images afford a rare glimpse of animals at ease, unthreatened by the intimidating presence of humans.
As part of Le Mois de la Photo in Montreal, the series is continuous with the over-arching theme, Drone: the Automated Image. Here, the human is unmoored as the central productive agent, leaving wildlife and technology to mingle in the imaging process without the authoritative hand of the photographer. But unlike the militant drone, capable of wreaking remote havoc, Ducharme’s automation creates a productive space within which animals reign supreme and are bestowed with an agency otherwise denied.
The white piercing eyes, nonchalance and sincerity of the wildlife that populate Encounters provokes a reinterpretation of the proverbial falling tree: perhaps it is not a question of whether it makes a sound, but rather who hears it?
Encounters is on view until October 5 at Galerie B-312 as part of Montreal’s Le Mois de la Photo.