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Artist Rosalie Favell receives the Karsh Award

September 2012

This spring, I was invited to join Martha Hanna and Marie-Jeanne Musiol as members of the Karsh Award jury. The Karsh Award honours the artistic legacy of celebrated photographers Yousuf and Malak Karsh. It is presented every two years to an established visual artist in Ottawa for outstanding work in a photo-based medium.

It was my great pleasure to introduce Rosalie at the September 13 award ceremony, an event also celebrating a stunning installation of her work at the City of Ottawa’s Karsh Masson Gallery. Here is an excerpt from those remarks:

Rosalie Favell Rosalie Favell was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba and much of her work draws on her family history and Métis heritage. Her body of work, beautifully represented in this installation, constitutes a mosaic made of disparate fragments fusing past and present, public and private, autobiography and collective narrative, the playful and the harrowing, the visible and the imagined.

Comme une conteuse, une communicatrice et une archiviste, elle combine ses autoportraits photographique à des alter ego réels et fictifs basés d’albums de famille, de la cultural populaire et des traditions autochtones. Elle a également orienté son appareil photo vers l’extérieur dans Facing the Camera, (autour de nous dans cette espace) une série de portraits évocateurs sur des artistes et des conservateurs autochtones contemporains. Comme Ms. Favell avait écrit, pour bon nombre d’autochtones, se placer devant un appareil photographique constitue une geste quandmême politique. (In other words, simply to stand before a camera is to contest an entire history of the Aboriginal as the subject of the photographer.)

As an artist, Ms. Favell has received acclaim in many solo and group exhibitions held in Canada and internationally. Her work is included in collections such as National Gallery of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Portrait Gallery of Canada, the US National Museum of the American Indian, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the City of Ottawa collection as well as many other collections across Canada.

Rolasie FavellOutre ses activités stimulantes à titre d’artiste et sa participation à des expositions révolutionnaires acclamées internationalement, elle favorise des discussions plus larges sur la photographie au moyen de ses écrits, de ses activités de conservatrice et de l’enseignement. Elle a obtenu un baccalauréat en arts photographiques au Ryerson Polytechnic institute, et une maîtrise en beaux-arts à l´Université du Nouveau-Mexique, à Albuquerque. Plus récemmement, elle a obtenu son doctorat à Carleton University dans le program Cultural Mediations.

The work of Rosalie Favell interrogates and reconstitutes many kinds of photography: family snapshots, tourist souvenirs, portraiture, landscape, moving images, one-of-a-kind polaroids, digital manipulation, straight images and montage. She does not “take” photographs, she makes them. In so doing, she has created a deeply personal pictorial language that reflects the fracture of — and provokes the reconstitution of — indigenous histories and narratives, personas and identities.

Her artistic and theoretical explorations have not only had a significant impact on the practice of photography, but broaden the reach of photography (and its narratives) by igniting new discussions across artistic, cultural and academic boundaries.