November 15–December 14, 1996
Artspeak Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Vancouver based artist Monique Genton.
The Science of Swimming is a photo-based painting and video projection installation. The video work was produced on a Macintosh computer using the Adobe Premiere application program and was later transferred onto video tape. Using still images and text found in a 1929 swimming manual the artist re-presents the fractured female subject, silenced by the scientific gaze.
“When I encountered my source images in a 1929 swimming manual, I was struck with how they fail miserably to describe swimming’s multi-faceted experience—meanwhile, asserting legitimacy through an import of scientific rhetorical strategies. In response, my photo-based paintings attempt to symbolically reinvest absent human experience through the introduction of human scale, poetic gestures, tactile surfaces, and subject—based narratives. Many layers of glazed paint form a sensual membrane rehumanizing these stagnant photographs. Titles are derived by augmenting text from the original swimming manual with my interpretation of what the subject may have heard, felt, thought, or seen, e.g. Over a longer distance, the breathing intervals become too lengthy and this puts a great strain on the organism/I think of you often.”
In the video the artist employs additional narratives to extend the metaphor of swimming. The original didactic text from the manual is used in conjunction with Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, which describes a turn-of-the-century woman’s experience of discovering her body and asserting her independence through the rituals of swimming. The other narrative structure is the voice of the artist, who describes in the first person, experiences that elude to violence and sexuality. As the text pans slowly across the surface of the screen the subject is intermittently caressed by the sounds of moving water and overlapping images. It is through the metaphor of swimming that the subject re-claims her female identity.
December 4, 1996
In conjunction with Genton’s The Science of Swimming show at Artspeak Gallery.