Marc-Olivier Hamelin

Editor : Est-Nord-Est, résidence d'artistes
Location : Saint-Jean-Port-Joli
Year : 2023
Language : French / English
Author : Galadriel Avon

Artist and author

Marc-Olivier Hamelin

Materializing memory and the human experience to bring intimacy to life is key to Marc-Olivier Hamelin’s concerns. When he arrived at Est-Nord-Est, Hamelin was planning to pursue a project around the North American AIDS crisis in the late twentieth century and the repercussions still being felt in LGBTQ+ communities. Instead, as summer dawned, his studio space became covered with photographic fragments capturing the essence of his wanderings in nature and his pacing back and forth in his assigned studio.

Images intersect to speak in a common voice of fragility and absence, building a narrative that addresses everyday life with a sense of humility. Gradually, materials accumulate to fragment the reading of the photographs scattered around the room: the non-hierarchical aesthetic that Hamelin favours allows everything – all the bits and pieces – to be seen, without chronology or prescription of a monolithic narrative. So, books pile up, a light table and pieces of plexiglass dance with projected shadows, mirrors duplicate what plays out in the space. Hamelin lets them breathe and take over the space, but allows viewers and the other residents to handle them, their interventions conferring a new layer of meaning on these objects.

Formal and theoretical associations surface, sink, and rise again, conjuring the way in which memories are created and recounted. In turn, they reconstruct undulating realities, observe reflections, evoke heartbreaks. In turn, they exhibit the permission that Hamelin has given himself to engender instability and displacement, through an overlapping of elements that leaves room for a new path through the space. Assembled, his collection of objects thus becomes a sort of archive of life, like automatic writing that bonds the codes of performance, installation, and literature.

Motivated by a sort of anxious accumulation, Hamelin offers a view of the artefacts that we leave behind over time, and he addresses memory as an embodied space of suspension: in opposition to the protective mechanisms that live within us, he privileges clarity and vulnerability. In the installation in his studio at Est-Nord-Est, always shining through – like a form of self-confrontation – is what is on the inside. Silence and solitude mitigate attempts to flee and escape: by showing and exposing himself, he ultimately contextualizes moments of everyday life and revitalizes, in his way, what individuals experience and live through.