Galerie Simon Blais, Montreal
Fables – 2015
Within the landscape of contemporary Québec photography, Éliane Excoffier stands apart. Since the early 1990s, she has worked in an exacting, sometimes challenging way on the periphery of the major trends of current photographic practice. For her, photography is based on the exploration of uncommon, even anachronistic avenues, and the darkroom is still the main locus of its creation.
Through both the technical processes used and their iconographic references, her pictures inevitably, and completely deliberately, take us back to the history of photography.
The Fables series comprises some fifteen photographs that can be appreciated for the rich details and very soft contrasts of their rendering and for the process behind their creation. Each work is the result of combining digital (a first for Excoffier) and analog photographic techniques.
The shots were first taken with a digital camera in strictly natural light. Following that, the artist’s process becomes more complicated, as she makes a negative from the digital files, a negative as big as the final print. Using the chemistry of the darkroom, that negative serves to produce the final print on silver gelatin photographic paper. Though some images deliberately remained in colour and became regular ink jet prints.
The subjects of these imagined little animal fables are inspired by the rural environment that is home to the artist. The pictures show us scenes, full of detail and powerful in their narrative thrust, in which animals, materials, places and objects become central characters. While, in one image after another, these Fables spin a number of brief tales, the entire series conjures up a story — that of photography — which is constantly to be reinvented.