Monique Mees

Monique Mees studied at Emily Carr College of Art and Design and the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenen Kunst in the late ’80’s. Her work has been exhibited in Vancouver and Germany since 1985 and she is a recent (2000) recipient of the Vancouver Foundation’s Visual Arts Development Award.


  • Prosthesis

    February 2–March 18, 2000

    Some cable television programs are entirely devoted to images of surgical procedures as entertainment, taking the voyeuristic impulse beyond the surface of the body to penetrate its interior. The horror and fascination with which we view the anonymous flesh has an interesting history. Lisa Cartwright’s cultural studies text Screening the Body drew the attention of theorists and artists with the insight that scientific image-making like X-rays and medical photography cannot be separated from art forms such as ‘art’ photography and cinema, rather that they inform and influence one another. Scientists and physicians call upon the formal conventions of the culture in which they live as they make images and documents. Artifacts of medical study, combined with our familiarity with art photographs and film, create an archive that influences our way of imagining the body, and indeed mediates our bodily experience.

    Prosthesis is a result of research in the history of medical imaging and an exploration of the compelling objects used in surgical procedures. Monique Mees has compiled an archive of 19th century photographs of patients and replicant body parts—an archive that she has re-photographed and formatted as black and white transparencies. Fixed on glass and arranged in a grid, the transparencies hover inches from the gallery wall. An arc-shaped lighting apparatus on the ceiling slowly scans back and forth, animating the images and, creating skewed, theatrical shadows. The scanning action combines references to cinema and to contemporary diagnostic devices, animating this disturbing archive with the sounds and machine movement of the examination room. Steel replacement joints used in orthopedic surgery are photographed and enlarged on canvas using the archaic process of liquid emulsion, creating sensuous and evocative images of these disturbing clinical objects.

    anarchive 01

    Graham, Beryl, “The Panic Button (in which our heroine goes back to the future of pornography), The Photographic Image in Digital Culture, Martin Lister, ed.: London: Routledge, 1995

    Cartwright, Lisa, “Gender Artisfacts: Technologies of Bodily Display in Medical Culture”. Visual Display: Culture Beyond Appearances. Lynne Cooke and Peter Wollen, eds.: Bay Press, Seattle, 1995.

    Cartwright, Lisa, “Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine’s Visual Culture”. University of Missesota Press, Minneapolis, 1995.

    Nussbaum, Emily, “Field Notes: Mother’s Little Helper”. Lingua Franca, November 1998, p. 8-9.

    Kirby, Kathleen, “Indecent Exposure: Redefining the Spaces of Gender”, Indifferent Boundaries: Spatial Concepts of Human Subjectivity, New York: Guilford, 1996.

    Derko, Kim; Kealey, Susan; Marchessault, Janine; Gagnon, Monika Kin; Berland, Jody; Shaw, Nancy. “Let’s Play Doctor”. Artspeak Gallery, Vancouver, 1993.

    Jolicoeur, Nicole; Love, Karen; Randolph, Jeanne. “La Verite Folle”. Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver, 1989.

    Herbert, James; Noren, Andrew; Gallagher, Chris; Schneemann, Carolee; Corner, Bruce; Broughton, James; Elder, R. Bruce. “The Body in Film”. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1989.

    Messager, Annette; Hurtig, Annette; Lamoureux, Johanne. “faire des histoires /making up stories”. Mercer Union, Toronto, 1991.

    Simon, Cheryl; Wilson, Louise; Wright, Alexa; Racine, Daniéle. “Corps-machine: engrenage médical”. La Centrale, Montréal, 1995.

    Monleon, Mau. “Verbo”. Generalitat Valenciana, 1993.