Emancipation through art, interview with Audrey Beaulé
Photo : Jean-Michel Martin
By Amélie Maltais
The works for sale in the Livart store are an extension of Audrey’s residency at Atelier circulaire. Her practice “explores non-figurative objects in relation to the body as an attempt at a queer re-reading of abstraction through assemblage, drawing and print art, specifically risography.” She tries to evoke the body while remaining in a representation in absence of gender which is located between the figuration and the abstraction with a particular attachment for the use of the blue color. Learn more about the talented and thoughtful Audrey Beaulé through this short interview.
To begin and put us in context, can you tell us about your artistic practice?
My research for my Master’s degree in art and my residency at Atelier Circulaire are about abstraction in Quebec, but above all about getting out of “the great history of art” in order to bring the margins back into history to rebalance the injustices of an era that has erased people and artists. My interest in queer culture has become a pretext for digging deeper into this subject, I would even say my starting point which leads me to do a feminist and queer rereading of the history of art in Quebec.
Although blue refers to a “neutrality outside the body color”, can you tell us more about the choice of this tone as the main color for your works presented at Livart?
Blue is a color that I am obsessed with, that joins me a lot, because I give it a neutrality outside the color of the body and the skin. It has soothing and universal virtues. I have long had an interest in this color. Some have already made comparisons with Yves Klein who used women to paint his famous blue silhouettes. I was told that my work echoed hers, was a rereading of it as I am a queer artist who appropriates blue to evoke the body with abstraction. I didn’t go as deep as that in the choice of color, although one can make links with Klein the choice of blue was not conceived in that way.
“Abstraction and queer theories are what allow me to go beyond definitions”, how do these themes allow you to transcend definitions?
they allow me to go beyond the frames. In my drawings there are lines that form frames on which organic forms are juxtaposed. The duality between these organic forms and the rigidity of the frameworks leads to a reflection on identity and the construction of a self on the fringe of pre-established norms, what can emancipate us and on what we are limited? Conceptually and formally an emancipation is created.
How do you think abstraction and queer theories challenge representation?
I was strongly inspired by Renate Lorenz and her theory of abstract drag. It’s fascinating because abstract drag appeals to what evokes the body without showing it, through abstraction. I have a great interest in the artist who makes the work and what his gestures and process were. I question myself on what is invisible in the work finally, what is out of the representations, but which makes the subjective touch of the work of an artist. The discovery of these theories marked a passage in my practice where I took a more assertive queer turn.
Your work is driven by themes of agency, emancipation and what is worth saying. How do these issues manifest themselves in what you do?
These are themes that are most evident in my books. I ask myself first of all what has not been said, what deserves to be said? I believe that through writing, through art, changes can take place, which is in line with Barbara Havercroft’s thinking, in which agency is a term that means an action taken by a group, often marginalized, in order to create a social change, a change in norms or limits, an emancipation
What would you change to achieve an ideal society?
I would change the notion of framework, we are already witnessing the beginning of this change, for sure it is very present in my circle, but it remains isolated. I definitely want more openness in terms of identity and sexuality, that everyone can express themselves freely.
Do you consider your life and your practice to be intertwined? How do they feed each other?
At first I felt like it didn’t all come together, but lately I’ve come to understand that they feed off each other. I felt like my work was scattered… I’ve done a comic book, I write in notebooks, and I have a visual art practice, but through all of these mediums I explore a common theme: trying to tell things differently to give space to marginalized narratives. As a queer person who identifies as much with the pronouns she and he, I realize that the more I assert my identity, the more my practice asserts itself, in a sense.
“I make books, because it’s kind of a funnel of everything I’ve learned.” Are there any other reasons that motivate you to create a book?
What turns me on in the book is the sequencing of images, stories and finding the right rhythm that turns me on. My studies in animation cinema have trained me to put images in sequence and to do this work of rhythm. The book hides the sensitive, it is for me the perfect work because it is an object that travels everywhere and its consultation allows an intimacy between the object and the spectator.
How important is the reception of your works by the public?
I believe that words are necessary as a driving force, but if people rely on feelings that’s fine. I have not done many exhibitions, but among those I have done, I have found it interesting to be able to mediate my work and enrich it with the discussions generated by this activity. Talking with people is inspiring, gives us new references, theories, points of view on our work. A visitor once pointed out to me the subjectivity present in my work. I believe that drawing is a subjective art, because it shows the person we are, it makes us transparent.
How do you see art as a vehicle for change?
I believe that the work can make changes, but the change also takes place in what is on the fringe of the work: meetings, friendship, etc. The artistic community of each generation does its part in the evolution of morals through stories, the collective, dialogues and their transmission to change mentalities.
Is this what you create for? Why else are you doing it?
Creating allows me to achieve focus, to feel alive and sharing it with others allows me to feel that I have made a difference in the world. Creation is a reflexive process that opens up to others, to friendship, to encounters, to theories and allows us to get closer to others. I create to give back to others.