Bettina Hoffmann composes everyday scenes to explore how still photographs and cinematography create and communicate space, characters and narrative. In the two-channel video projection Émile (2008), only the video camera moves: it slowly revolves around children and teenagers, who remain completely still, fixed like sculptures or subjects in a snapshot.

The title, Émile, refers to philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s controversial 1762 treatise on human nature, education and the relationship between individuals and society. Hoffmann suggests parallels between the emergence of democracy, photography and film, and burgeoning adulthood. In the work, details come into view – of furniture, bodies, gestures and expressions – but it is impossible to grasp the whole scene. From these fragments, potent moments of adolescence and its turbulence emerge.

Born in Berlin, Hoffmann is currently based in Montreal. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, most recently at the Québec Triennial 2008, organized by the Musée d’art contemporain, Montreal, and at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago. Émile will be on view in the Young Gallery, adjacent to the AGO’s restaurant, Frank. Admission is free. Curated by Sophie Hackett.

Also on view at the AGO is Connecting with Photography: Ongoing Dialogues, selections from the permanent photography collection, in the Betty Ann & Fraser Elliott Gallery.

Contemporary programming at the AGO is supported by The Canada Council for the Arts