In winter 2023, author and art worker Gabrielle Desgagné-Duclos arrived in residency at Est-Nord-Est with a writing project with shifting contours; the prerequisite for its completion would be a search for authorial legitimacy. This is the type of permission that can be granted to us by no one but ourselves, in the light of our own doubts and measured against our ambitions. Because writing is, first of all, reading (one’s own words), the time and space dedicated to this activity and its extensions are decisive. Thus, Desgagné-Duclos spread part of her library on the floor around her to create a work space, which was combined with a low-angle living space, architecturally weaving together moments of leisure and rest with those of work. A comfortable creative space serves as a place where thought relieved of immediate obligations may meet the ideas of other authors. Notable passages of literary works and essays may be taken in and meditated on.
Desgagné-Duclos maintains a critical relationship, anchored in practice, with the conditions of cultural workers who make possible, by their often-invisible labour, the activities of production, presentation, and mediation with the public. Only some of the time may one work and write for oneself, even if one also wants to speak about others. Informed notably by an intellectual perspective founded in art history, using links of citation, intertextuality, circulation of images, and stimulation drawn from visual cultures, Desgagné-Duclos nevertheless notes that she wants to distance herself from “academic” writing in favour of something more personal, free, situated. A rich avenue is that of autotheory, a conceptual approach that encourages artists and authors to form thoughts on the basis of their own lives, echoing the crucial feminist proposition that the private is always political. Desgagné-Duclos wants to build bridges among intimacy, theory, and creativity.
Gabrielle Desgagné-Duclos holds a master’s degree in art history (Université de Montréal, 2015) for which her thesis subject was the aesthetic dispositif of the tableau vivant. When she publishes essays in contemporary art magazines, her interest leads her to write mainly about painting in the broad sense and about artists whose living practices draw on inter-iconicity or on reprise and remediation processes. Since 2016, she has been the programming coordinator for Verticale – centre d’artistes, where she is developing her sensitivity to displaying art in an atypical context. This guidance and implementation work enables her to observe the impact of the invisible on materialities. She envisages writing on art as a form of paying attention.