an investigative photo documentary

Exclusive 27-page photo essay from our investigative journalist team in collaboration with award-winning photojournalist Ryan Walker. Location: Toronto, Canada Copyright Wondereur 2018.

MEET with artist Iris Häussler curated by award-winning curator Catherine Sicot.

First page iris
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IT IS A VERY HUMAN THING TO DO, TO DISSECT THINGS AND OPEN THEM UP. WE DO IT CONSTANTLY.
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Everything that can be investigated will be. Some people would kill animals to dissect them. Mummies are x-rayed and shown in situations that their ancestors would not approve.
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WE HAVE THIS NEED TO COME DOWN TO THE REASONS AND BE A RESEARCHER.
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CURIOSITY IS SO POWERFUL, IT MAKES US GO OVER ETHICAL BORDERS.
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I’M THAT CURIOUS PERSON. BUT I CAN’T HELP ENCASING THINGS.
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I encase them in cement and in plaster, but most of the time I encase them in wax. I’ve made a whole series of garments encased in wax, and often they have a little note or a letter attached to them. This will never be seen by anyone but I know it’s there.
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By encapsulating something, preserving it, I’m making it available to the eye—to the gaze—but not available to be touched and used again. Not to be available to be investigated again, deeply.
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THERE’S A LIMIT TO CURIOSITY AND I THINK IT IS LOVE.
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Love is very individual and very small, bonded to one or two people.
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THE MOMENT YOU GIVE SOMETHING TO THE MASSES, YOU GIVE IT AWAY FOR DISSECTION.
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YOU CANNOT UNKNOW WHAT YOU KNOW.
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As a conceptual artist in the 21st century, I have a lot of freedom but I also have this knowledge of history and art history that sometimes feels like wearing a corset.
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HAVING IN MIND ALL THESE REFERENCES CAN HINDER YOUR ABILITY TO EXPERIMENT.
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When I create a character who lived in another time, under other circumstances, then for a moment the knowledge can retreat into the back. For a moment, I can have the freedom of not knowing what I know.
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STEPPING INTO MY CHARACTER’S SHOES, I FEEL A CERTAIN FREEDOM IN MY BODY THAT IS BEAUTIFUL.
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At some point, Sophie La Rosière as a character becomes so strong in me, that she lends me her skills and her desires and her iconography.
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I basically watch my hands doing and I’m holding my breath, being terribly embarrassed, and terribly proud… and curious about the result.
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I JUST HAVE THIS FIRM BELIEF THAT IF I ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN, IT WILL SHOW ME SOMETHING THAT WAS UNKNOWN TO ME BEFORE.
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IT’S LIKE OPENING MY HANDS AND LETTING THINGS FALL INTO THEM.
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THESE ARE MOMENTS WHEN I FEEL BLOOD RUNNING THROUGH MY VEINS, I FEEL I’M A PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER, I’M A PART OF LIFE.
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BUT THE QUESTION IS: HOW DO YOU GIVE A FICTIONAL LIFE REALITY?
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To film the introductory video for the Sophie La Rosière show, I went 42 times to the Smith-Lesouëf Library in Nogent-sur-Marne, from 2014 to 2016. I interviewed museum curators and psychoanalysts to hear their perspective on Sophie’s work. It became a huge collective endeavour to make Sophie real.
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All the material objects in the show have their own reality too. The objects that you see in Sophie La Rosière’s studio, in the vitrines, they are real objects. You can’t deny that. But they are used in the context of creating a fictional life.
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There are so many real people that are lending a little bit of their power to a character like Sophie. The most evocative object in this exhibition is the hair—actually two locks of hair… one of a blond child, and one of a young woman. Somebody in France lent it to the project.
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IS IDENTITY GIVEN OR IS IT CREATED? I WONDER.