GABRIELLE BELAND | MONTREAL, CANADA
Gabrielle Béland is an emerging artist from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. She has trained at Canada’s National Ballet School, Toronto, before beginning her studies in visual arts at Champlain College in St-Lambert until 2013. She recently completed a BFA in photography at Concordia University, Montréal.
What is your work about?
My practice as a visual artist is driven by personal histories. My work focuses on themes of identity, memory, fantasy and desire, through the use of mise-en-scène, meaningful archives, spaces and objects resulting in enigmatic pieces. I am interested in blurring reality and fiction, exploring my reality and life as I had imagined, based on ideals I grew up with. My photographic practice began when I could no longer pursue professional ballet at 16 where losing this main form of expression caused a profound questioning of my identity. Working in self portraiture, I began taking on different roles within the frame of the camera, in the same way a dancer would. Engaging in photography this way allowed me to navigate failure and grief, and the photographic results would provide a visual connection to ballet and conventions of femininity. The controlled aesthetic is intentional yet naturally carried out, representing and relating the paradoxical qualities of classical ballet with occurrences in my life shaped by family and relationships.
How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
One aspect of my artistic practice involves self portraiture. The process self portraiture requires with film is more challenging yet more gratifying than with digital. Film’s restrictions in terms of number of shots and no instant visual results makes me extra aware of light, composition, focus, and gesture. The performance that takes place when photographing with film and its visual outcome is genuine.