Displacements & Relocation: recent photographs

Isabelle Hayeur


Montreal artist Isabelle Hayeur has developed a distinctive photographic practice since the late 1990s, using digital tools to cast a penetrating eye on the urban (and suburban) landscapes we take for granted. It is not always a pretty picture.

Some images document mechanically produced mountainscapes, backdrops for tract housing developments that possess a sometimes malevolent presence. In other images, absurd Tudor and French Chateau confections of suburban development – or, less grandly put, cheaply built boxes bearing upbeat feminine names such as “Linda” – are altered by Hayeur to birth an additional turret or other such retrograde flourish.

The melancholic beauty of the sky, or what may remain of the natural habitat of such buildings, nevertheless lures our gaze. So familiar are these environments that it is possible to avoid questioning the truth of the image. Indeed, Hayeur picks and chooses what to highlight, digitally creating hybrids of the familiar as if to accentuate that the world before her lens is already a hybrid one.

Hayeur’s images can also parody fantasies fuelling the marketing of a new urban landscape. Her public installation project for the windows of the Drake Hotel, a skyline panorama of Toronto, becomes a timely backdrop in its own right as viewers watch Queen Street West transforming before their very eyes.

Isabelle Hayeur has also created a public installation for CONTACT – see Exhibitions>Public Installations.