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"Animalcules et dessins obscurs: A Site-Specific Installation by Annie Thibault"
2001-09-19 until 2001-10-21
Bishop's University Art Gallery
Lennoxville, QC, CA

This body of work is part of an ongoing project called La Chambre des Cultures which began in 1995 and evolved during the course of the artists' numerous residencies in different microbiological laboratories. The artworks presented in this exhibition resulted from a three-week residency in the Biology Department of Bishop's University where the artist cultured fungal microorganisms and bacteria. Appearing throughout the installation in test tubes, flasks and petrie dishes, these vibrantly coloured and richly textured life forms are microcosmic universes through which Thibault's exploration into the origins of life unfolds.

Although sterilization techniques are employed, the risk of contamination is always present and is emblematic of the potential invasion of chaos which, according to the artist, provides a rich source of creative energy that prompts her to explore alternate possibilities which inevitably redirect the artistic process.

Although much of her practice depends on scientific methods, early alchemist myths about the origins of life and its accompanying imagery pervade the artistís imagination, providing the impetus for much of her investigations. While present-day scientific discourse tends to dissociate itself from its alchemist and vitalist roots which are believed to be tainted by superstition, for Thibault what is most compelling, is the fact that these initial cosmogonic inquiries were guided by the researcherís spirituality and intuition.

A rhizomorphous network comprised of interconnected laboratory glassware is a metaphoric expression for the migration of life-forms, capturing the artistís wonderment in the face of living matterís incredible adaptability and ability to emerge in previously uninhabited territory. Beeswax sculptures reminiscent of marine algae and flower petals protrude from glass funnels affixed to ring stands. Fusing scientific instruments with sculpture, Thibault engages in the deconstruction of the artificial barriers between the scientific, natural and artistic realms.

Annie Thibault lives and works in Hull, Quebec. In 1989, she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Quebec at Hull. A recipient of the Claudia De Hueck Fellowship in Art and Science in 1998, she was also recently awarded the gold medal for sculpture at the Jeux de la Francophonie.


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