There’s a very human touch to the éLoges s’expose (avec Inédits) photography exhibit that is occupying the George-Émile-Lapalme cultural space at Place des Arts. Martine Doucet, the photographer, has decided to showcase her love of women by building an exhibit in collaboration with famous “québécois” celebrities, depicting these actresses preparing to mount the stages of massive productions. Through door openings and even via close-ups, the photographer documents the preparation process necessary for these actresses to embody their roles on stage.
Doucet had actually published this collection of photographs as a coffee table book, with the publishing house Les éditions du passage back in 2006. The book is stunning, but the selection of photographs that is being showcased in the actual exhibit also includes brand new snapshots from the show Les Belles-Soeurs, the theatre adaptation of Michel Tremblay’s play, which is currently under production at Le Monument National. The experience is also utterly incomparable when you blow these pictures up to a bigger size, as opposed to having them in a smaller format of a book.
Essentially, the exhibit is quite particular in the sense that it plays on the development of the antithesis of the photographic portrait. Doucet delves into the world of intimacy of all these women, who welcome her into their space as they prepare to be seen by thousands. The transformation that some of these actresses undergo is remarkable; layers of colorful makeup and outrageous wigs can be seen throughout the entire exhibit. The common theme in all the images on display is the mirror. Doucet clearly enjoys exploring the moment of introspection and dialogue with oneself that occurs when we see our reflection in the mirror.
Though the exhibit is by no means immense, the content of the pictures is incredibly lively. Sophie Cadieux, Guylaine Tremblay, Anne-Marie Cadieux and so many more familiar faces contribute to making this exhibit so alluring. Doucet is, in that respect, a genius. Human curiosity will always get the better of us and we are all curious about what’s required for these women to invest themselves so profoundly in the magic of theatre. The affinities that exist between the photographer and her subjects are almost palpable, which is so refreshing in this age of distanced, contemporary art.
There’s also something more personal in the works. Doucet does an excellent job at catching some of these grandiose artists in a moment of vulnerability, as they contemplate the task that awaits them on stage, the shoes of the characters they’re about to fill. Sometimes exhaustion looks like it may get the best of them. Other times, the photographer’s lens is filled with the amused look of one of these women reading a line in their script that particularly pleases them. There’s no camouflage here and that was clearly the photographer’s goal: total transparency.
éLoges s’expose (avec Inédits) can be viewed until Dec. 2 at Place des Arts, in the George-Émile-Lapalme cultural space. For more information visit pda.qc.ca