Caroline Mauxion touch weight
Using her experiences within the medical system as a point of departure, Caroline Mauxion reanimates the body to reclaim agency and expose a tension between the clinical and the sensual. For her first solo exhibition outside of Quebec, the Montreal-based artist disrupts traditional photography to create a series of intimate mixed-media installations that transform the body into a site both deeply familiar and totally unknown.
Photography has a fraught relationship with the body. The medium presupposes truth, which reduces the meaning of things to their appearance under the photographer’s gaze. The history of medical photography demonstrates this assumed objectivity—an image in a textbook illustrates a particular ailment or abnormality, and an X-ray confirms its existence. But what unexamined biases inform the creation of that textbook image, and how do those biases map onto the X-ray that a doctor then holds in their hands?
Through photographic layering and the manipulation of plaster and latex, Mauxion transforms photographs of herself and her partner into a selection of obscured and unreadable studies. Pale shadows fall across soft pink curves, while translucent splatters reveal the barely visible trace of what lies beneath. Is that an elbow, perhaps, or maybe a belly button? Abstracted beyond recognition, these photographs offer a different terrain from which to conceptualize the body—one adept at evading the totalizing gaze of power.
The subjects of Mauxion’s multimedia interventions, while not always decipherable, nevertheless contain an erotic charge. Depicted from unusual angles, these bodies elicit curiosity and intrigue. We want to know what we are looking at, but there is an alluring potency to its remaining unknowable—a potency Mauxion harnesses to maximum effect. Her photography triggers a desire to identify and catergorize, an impulse coyly denied through the inscrutability of each image. In their ability to bypass a purely figurative reading, these works encourage viewers to contend with their own assumptions and expectations of representational photography. A stray hair or fold of skin may lead the mind in a particular direction, but the artist offers no diagnosis—only suggestions for new ways of seeing.
Rather than force this new corporeal terrain to remain two-dimensional and affixed to the wall, Mauxion lets it spill into the gallery. Delicate metal rods reach out from photographs like spindly fingers or varicose veins. Plaster sculptures, ranging in colour from charcoal grey to dusty rose, recall the drooping oblongs of internal organs: spleen, liver, lungs, and heart. These sculptural elements sprawl across the gallery, their physical precarity underscoring the fluidity of human perception, the fragility of the human body, and the boundless potential of both. By expanding her representations beyond the established frame of the photograph, Mauxion creates a body—or perhaps multiple bodies—that refuse to be contained within the controlling and reductive logics of traditional portraiture. Who gets to decide how a body is understood, represented, and discussed? According to the photography of Caroline Mauxion, the answer can come only from the body itself.
Presented by Zalucky Contemporary
Caroline Mauxion graduated in photography from the École des Gobelins (France) and holds a Master’s degree in visual and media arts from UQAM. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in the art program at the Université du Québec in Montréal. She has had solo exhibitions across Quebec at VU, Arprim, Projet Casa, Galerie B-312, Galerie Simon Blais, Centre d’art contemporain Optica, Galerie de l’UQAM, Caravansérail and Les Territoires. She has participated in residencies at the Banff Art Center and at Est-Nord-Est in St-Jean-Port-Joli. Her work is included in the collections of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the City of Laval, as well as several private collections in Canada and France.