A trace is an imprint or mark that attests to the former existence of creatures, whether human or animal, and things. Because traces are survivals from another time, they sometimes need to be reinterpreted in order to be correctly understood. The vestiges of the past serve as reference points in the construction of individual and group memory. Whether in the social sciences or the arts, issues related to the concept of the trace speak to the process through which the past is (re)presented and decoded. By exploring the realm of memory, artists inquire into our relationship with the past and the ways in which we gain access to it by using what remains of it. In the process, we catch a glimpse of the extent to which it continues to act upon our own time.
A trace is an imprint or mark that attests to the former existence of creatures, whether human or animal, and things. Because traces are survivals from another time, they sometimes need to be reinterpreted in order to be correctly understood. The vestiges of the past serve as reference points in the construction of individual and group memory. Whether in the social sciences or the arts, issues related to the concept of the trace speak to the process through which the past is (re)presented and decoded. By exploring the realm of memory, artists inquire into our relationship with the past and the ways in which we gain access to it by using what remains of it. In the process, we catch a glimpse of the extent to which it continues to act upon our own time.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

chromogenic prints (Fujicolor) 1/3

96 framed photographs

40 x 51 cm each

Artist: Arnaud Maggs, Photo: Isaac Applebaum
1996
© Arnaud Maggs, courtesy of Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto


The faculties of observation and comparison are often foregrounded in the work of Arnaud Maggs. In it, factual information is presented according to typological systems seemingly devoid of emotion. In Notifications i and ii, the artist paid close attention to objects that are evocative of daily life. This photo installation featured envelopes that were used for mailing death notices in France in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. The backs of these envelopes were marked with a large black X, so the recipients did not have to open them or read what was inside to guess the nature of the news. For Maggs in this piece, envelopes became decipherable signs to be collected, preserved, compiled and archived by means of photography. The work took its shape from formally constituted and documented collections, attesting in the process to a ritual practice from another era. The grid-like arrangement of the photographs betrayed a concern with documentation; but despite the tone of cool detachment, the work functioned through its relation to the real world. Each picture thereby became a notice that took on meaning in the context of the others, revealing a portrait of human beings Read More
The faculties of observation and comparison are often foregrounded in the work of Arnaud Maggs. In it, factual information is presented according to typological systems seemingly devoid of emotion. In Notifications i and ii, the artist paid close attention to objects that are evocative of daily life. This photo installation featured envelopes that were used for mailing death notices in France in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th. The backs of these envelopes were marked with a large black X, so the recipients did not have to open them or read what was inside to guess the nature of the news. For Maggs in this piece, envelopes became decipherable signs to be collected, preserved, compiled and archived by means of photography. The work took its shape from formally constituted and documented collections, attesting in the process to a ritual practice from another era. The grid-like arrangement of the photographs betrayed a concern with documentation; but despite the tone of cool detachment, the work functioned through its relation to the real world. Each picture thereby became a notice that took on meaning in the context of the others, revealing a portrait of human beings born from the traces they leave behind, and that outlive them.

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Arnaud Maggs was born in Montréal but now lives in Toronto. He made his mark in visual art somewhat late, after a professional career in graphic art and fashion photography. Since the late 1980s he has pursued an interest in systems of classification and is greatly drawn to objects as tangible traces of human history. He has shown in many individual and group exhibitions, and has had a number of retrospectives devoted to his work. He has received numerous prizes, including the 2006 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

selected exhibitions
2006 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario) 2005 Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto (Ontario) 2004 Making Faces, Hayward Gallery, London (England) 2001 Mémoire et archive, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal (Québec) 1999 Arnaud Maggs: Work 1976-1999, The Power Plant, Toronto (Ontario)
Arnaud Maggs was born in Montréal but now lives in Toronto. He made his mark in visual art somewhat late, after a professional career in graphic art and fashion photography. Since the late 1980s he has pursued an interest in systems of classification and is greatly drawn to objects as tangible traces of human history. He has shown in many individual and group exhibitions, and has had a number of retrospectives devoted to his work. He has received numerous prizes, including the 2006 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

selected exhibitions
  • 2006 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (Ontario)
  • 2005 Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto (Ontario)
  • 2004 Making Faces, Hayward Gallery, London (England)
  • 2001 Mémoire et archive, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)
  • 1999 Arnaud Maggs: Work 1976-1999, The Power Plant, Toronto (Ontario)

© Galerie de l'UQAM 2007. All rights reserved

Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • demonstrate an understanding of how science and art can be linked;
  • try to explain the state of mind of the artist when he made this art piece.

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