Send your junk on a jour­ney

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Len­noxville

Who doesn’t have some­thing ly­ing around their home, a use­less ob­ject that just doesn’t seem to make it to the garbage can or the re­cy­cling bin for one rea­son or an­other, gath­er­ing dust year af­ter year? If you can re­late to that re­al­ity, then

from page 1 you might want to con­sider com­ing out to the Haskell Free Li­brary on Valen­tine’s Day to meet with a new­comer to Stanstead, Mon­treal artist Raphaelle de Groot. And, in case you’re in­ter­ested, she’ll be more than happy to take that dust col­lec­tor off your hands!

Ms. De Groot is an ac­com­plished artist who is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in peo­ple’s ‘or­di­nary’ ob­jects. “I have been col­lect­ing ob­jects since 2009. I’ve col­lected them in Leth­bridge, Al­berta, Que­bec City, Italy and I’m now do­ing it in Granby,” the artist ex­plained. She’s not in­ter­ested in ob­jects that peo­ple are at­tached to or that have any value, although they may once have had mean­ing, but ob­jects that are just be­ing stored for one rea­son or an­other; if there’s a story be­hind the ob­ject, even bet­ter.

“It could be a gift from an ex, or some­thing that’s been wait­ing for years to be re­paired. This is a chance to give a life to those ob­jects and to lib­er­ate you from them; to make you lighter!” said Raphaelle en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. “I don’t just gather the ob­ject but also the sto­ries be­hind the ob­jects. I ask how they got it, why they are now ready to let it go and a few other ques­tions. These anec­dotes will be­come part of the work. The per­son re­mains anony­mous but the essence of the ob­ject is re­vealed.” Pro­vid­ing ex­am­ples, Ms. De Groot men­tioned a red, curly tele­phone cord, long since de­tached from a phone, from an ear­lier col­lec­tion. That cord be­longed to a woman who, when a young girl, sat ev­ery night by the tele­phone, play­ing with that cord, wait­ing for her fa­ther to call.

“I don’t make a sculp­ture with the ob­jects, I make a col­lec­tion of them. I’m a per­for­mance artist so I travel around the world with the ob­jects.” Ms. De Groot’s art evolves as she trav­els with her ob­ject col­lec­tions, lit­er­ally car­ry­ing them, in­flu­enced by the ex­pe­ri­ences she has. She of­ten pho­to­graphs or video­tapes her col­lec­tions as they travel, fea­tures them in ex­hi­bi­tions, and they may reap­pear in other art projects that she un­der­takes.

In­ter­ested in the re­al­ity of borders, she has cho­sen the bor­der com­mu­ni­ties of Stanstead and Derby Line for her new­est col­lected ob­jects project. “Be­cause of the par­tic­u­lar­ity of Stanstead and Derby Line, I thought it could be in­ter­est­ing. I’m cu­ri­ous how peo­ple con­nected with this bor­der and about the idea that there is a com­mu­nity with re­la­tion­ships and also this le­gal, ad­min­is­tra­tive ter­ri­to­rial mark that ex­ists as part of the com­mu­nity. I have a gen­eral in­ter­est in borders be­cause I mar­ried an Ital­ian so I cross a lot of borders; my life is or­ga­nized with borders.

“I also un­der­stand that Stanstead is very at­tached to its his­tory and knows the value of ob­jects: the Colby Cur­tis and the Stanstead His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety have col­lec­tions.”

If you’d like to learn more about this in­ter­est­ing art project or you’d like to do­nate an ob­ject, Ms. De Groot is hold­ing an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion at the Haskell Free Li­brary on Tues­day, Fe­bru­ary 14th, at 5:00 pm. “I’ll ex­plain the project more and show the dif­fer­ent things that I do with the ob­jects. At the end of July they will be able to see what I’ve done with their ob­jects. The peo­ple’s par­tic­i­pa­tion will be part of the art­work,” com­mented the artist, adding: “This is a unique op­por­tu­nity for the peo­ple of Stanstead, Derby Line and the sur­round­ing area to send their ob­jects on an in­cred­i­ble jour­ney. I’ll be col­lect­ing them be­tween Fe­bru­ary 14th and the mid­dle of March, so it’s now or never!”

“Some­times the ob­jects that I get look bor­ing or cheap, but I cher­ish them and as a col­lec­tion they be­come very in­ter­est­ing. They show us that time passes; ev­ery­thing has its mo­ment of glory and then be­comes use­less. They have a power to tes­tify about us as hu­man be­ings.”

In July, 2012, Ms. De Groot will re­turn to Stanstead, af­ter trav­el­ling with her new col­lec­tion of ob­jects, to pro­duce some kind of an art ex­hibit or event, de­pend­ing on how her project evolves. Her project is part of a big­ger art project en­ti­tled Stanstead Project or how to cross the bor­der which is be­ing pro­duced by the Fore­man Art Gallery of Bishop’s Univer­sity. Genevieve Che­va­lier, the guest cu­ra­tor of that project, com­mented: “Part one of the project was an exhi- bi­tion at the Fore­man Art Gallery that dealt more with the is­sue of borders around the world. Part two is more about the spe­cific cul­ture of Stanstead and Derby Line and how the bor­der has had an im­pact on that cul­ture.” An­other artist who is par­tic­i­pat­ing in this project, Althea Thauberger, will present a film project,at the Haskell Li­brary, re­lated to the is­sue of the bor­der at the same time as Ms. De Groot’s event at the end of July.

Photo cour­tesy

Raphaelle de Groot at work with ob­jects from her col­lec­tion dur­ing a res­i­dency at the CEGEP de Granby Haute Ya­maska.

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