Naturally Intimate

Text by Michael Rattray

To look over the new works of Sylvie Fraser is to be sequestered into an intimate exchange between spectator and artist. The images offer a distortion of place through layering and invoke the personal reflections of an artist working in the constructed spaces of self-representation. Through an amalgamation of place with self, the images both convolute and express a manufactured containment of the personal with the public.

In the diptych Le bleu du ciel, Fraser, in her self-representation, uses multiple frames -the frame of the photograph and the frame of the tent window- as a means to possibly comment on the enclosed window of spectatorship. Through enclosure, be it through the gallery space or the private space of contemplation, the artist presents a border where she is located outside of our understanding, or outside the view of clear vision. As viewers, we do not encounter the artist in her natural environment of creativity; we are privy to the moments where constructions and enclosures have framed our understandings into exchanges of expectation. The artist creates outside of this expectation, and therefore is localized in the natural environment to perhaps echo the intimate act of creation itself.

The second -or first photo, dependant on whether a choice is made to read the work from right to left or left to right- photo of the diptych can be regarded as an instance where Fraser opens up the dialogue of the work to be inclusive of regarding the natural as a construction unto itself. The sky resembles a tarp, further distorting understandings of place. The bleu of the tarp is juxtaposed to the bleu of her shawl, both utilitarian objects used to cover ourselves from the outside world. Therefore, while the artist seeks to be outside of the frame of the viewer, she is not outside of her own constructions of the natural landscape.

Le blanc d’hiver offers an additional instance where the artist combines an element of the constructed landscape with the constructed self. The work, another diptych, again makes use of the tarp, only in this instance it acts as the landscape of the ground leading up to the rural construction. Contrasted with the white roots of the artist’s hair, the piece offers a commentary on the feigned manipulations that occur within. A place where the subject rests in a constant state of inquiry and expectation, never sure of anything, but acutely aware of the reality that sits outside its own distortions of existence.