Colette Balcaen, Sarah Houle and Pascal Jaouen | Farandole

September 10, 2011 to October 9, 2011

Curated by Jenny Western

Farandole is a partnership project between Plug In ICA and La Maison des artistes visuels francophone. Plug In ICA hosts clothing pieces by French designer Pascal Jaouen alongside Calgary-based artist Sarah Houle’s multimedia offering “Luella” while La Maison des artistes presents new work by Franco-Manitoban artist Colette Balcaen in conjunction with further work by Jaouen. Shown together, the artwork of Farandole addresses cultural identity and affirmation through renewed and adapted traditions in Métis and francophone cultures, as well as shedding light on new innovations within contemporary Métis culture.

Artist and drummer Sarah Houle uses her visual ideas to inform the larger aesthetic of her band, the Albertan rock group Ghostkeeper. Of her artistic practice Houle states, “I carve out questions of identity and fantasy creating modern legends using costume, masks, video, photography, painting, beading, music, installation and storytelling. These legends and stories are valuable tools used to bring my Métis culture and heritage into the artwork. In relating to and gaining understanding of other cultures we destroy stereotypes and pave the way for much needed social change in regards to Aboriginal people in Canada.” As part of the Farandole project, Houle’s multimedia installation draws its inspiration from the Ghostkeeper song “Luella.” A video for the song shot on Super 8 film is flanked by two puppet creatures called the Watchers. Composed from a variety of materials including vintage leather jackets, the Watchers offer guidance to the song’s protagonist as she sets off on a magical journey through a quilted landscape of imagination and nostalgia.

In 2010, French embroiderer and fashion designer Pascal Jaouen was invited to Winnipeg for a cultural exchange organized by L’Alliance Française du Manitoba. Paired with Franco-Manitoban artist Colette Balcaen, the two met with Métis artists and scholars to explore and learn from traditional textile techniques. Jaouen designed four articles of clothing in response to Métis culture, with a particular nod to the early relationship between European styles and the Indigenous aesthetic. With “Éclats d’hiver” Jaouen presents a feminine parka whose grey broadcloth and fur trim are reminiscent of the capote coats worn by the early fur traders of Manitoba. His imaginative design takes into account the various cultural exchanges of influences that comprise a Métis identity, as well as the considerations created by the vigorous Manitoba climate. Jaouen collaborated with Jenny Meyer and Jennine Krauchi, a mother/daughter team who specialize in traditional Métis clothing and beadwork, to create the detailed accents on “Éclats d’hiver.” Together with the accompanying muff and tall red gaiters, the resulting outfit speaks of a contemporary identity clothed in tradition.

Opening at La Maison des artistes on September 22, 2011 followed by a reception at Plug In ICA from 9:30 p.m.