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FFOTO's Five Quarantine Questions for Guillaume Simoneau, Cara Barer, and MaryAnn Camilleri

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Guillaume Simoneau's #WFH set-up in Montreal

Guillaume Simoneau's #WFH set-up in his Montreal studio.

FF/QQ 8 checks in with Guillaume Simoneau, a Montreal-based artist whose recent project MURDER was published to great acclaim by MACK Books; with Cara Barer, who transforms old maps and texts into objects of beauty in her Houston studio; and with Toronto's MaryAnn Camilleri, Founder of Canada's pioneering arts non-profit organization, The Magenta Foundation, home to the renowned Flash Forward Competition for Emerging Photographers, now in its 16th year. 

- Craig D'Arville

 

 

Guillaume Simoneau, artist (@simoneauguillaume)

Untitled (Ravens), Beppu, Ōita prefecture, Japan, by Guillaume Simoneau
Untitled (Ravens), Beppu, Ōita prefecture, Japan, 2016

Craig D'Arville: Tell us about this photograph, "Untitled (Ravens), Beppu Ōita prefecture, Japan". 

Guillaume Simoneau: This photograph is part of a collection of images entitled Murder that I recently published with MACK (UK) and premiered as a solo exhibition last summer at Les Rencontres d'Arles.

The photograph was taken in one of the most spectacular regions of Japan and, quite frankly, perhaps of the entire globe. A city literally sitting on a boiling sub-terrain punctured with tall and slow steam-chimneys and exposed craters on every other corner; truly breathtaking.

This body of work is a response: a timeless dialogue with the work of my mother, Jeanne d’Arc Fournier, as well as an homage-attack to the acclaimed Ravens series by Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase (1934-2012).

When I was walking back from the onsen that night and stumbled serendipitously upon this rock & roll bar, I felt, deep inside, that it was no coincidence.

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your art practice?

GS: At the moment, the most difficult aspect of it is not being able to travel, whether it be for production or exhibition. Otherwise life at the studio is very much similar to the type of permissive confinement people are forced to in Canada at the moment.

I am very comfortable with less social interaction but full disclosure: I terribly miss my friends right now.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

GS: A variety of things; phone calls, video calls, social media, texting, mailing presents (thank you Canada Post workers).

I'm also making a lot of images at the moment. I walk, I bike and I drive places to find little pearls reflecting the complexity of the situation.

By sharing these online afterwards I feel I am bringing an additional peripheral view of the crisis to the broader conversation. (edit. - check out Simoneau's IG Stories to see his fascinating observations)

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

GS: Meriem Bennani's (@meriembennani) "2 Lizards" and Lexie Smith's (@smyth_myth) Bread On Earth initiatives are two of my favourites at the moment.

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

GS: I find I work best from home when I have a cycle, a routine including good healthy food, and a part of the day where I do physical exercise. As soon as I stray from that I can feel the balance shift and the need to return to it rapidly. 

Staying healthy physically will help your moods and general mental health, which consequently is beneficial to your general state in isolation.

Guillaume Simoneau's #wfh set-upGuillaume Simoneau's #WFH set-up

Shop FFOTO: Guillaume Simoneau

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Cara Barer, artist (@carabarer)

Heart, 2011, by Cara BarerHeart, 2011

Craig D'Arville: What are you working on right now?

Cara Barer: I’m working on a new series that combines books with other media, such as magazines, newspapers, and ephemera.

CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

CB: It has not really changed it very much. I spend so much time alone in the studio anyway, so the “physical distancing” doesn’t bother me. I do have more uninterrupted time, but it seems I’m not getting more done. I’ve slowed down and become a bit more methodical and introspective.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

CB: Spending more time on Facebook, making more phone calls to see how friends and family are doing, texting more, and an occasional Zoom "happy hour" with friends.

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

CB: I'm enjoying these artists' Instagram accounts: David Burdeny, Robert Moran, Nevada Wier, Olga Karlovac, and Natalie Christensen.

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

CB: Just keep working even if you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere…eventually something good will happen.


Cara Barer in her studioCara Barer in her studio

Shop FFOTO: Cara Barer

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MaryAnn Camilleri, Founder, The Magenta Foundation (@magentafoundation)

Portrait of MaryAnn Camilleri, by Chris Thomaidis
Portrait of MaryAnn Camilleri, 2019, by Chris Thomaidis

Craig D'Arville: What are you working on right now?

MaryAnn Camilleri: The Magenta team is working on the Flash Forward Incubator Program. When we initiated this program we knew we wanted a large portion of it to be online so we could expand nationwide and internationally. Thus far we are still moving along with the participants that can finish the program because they have access to iphones, ipads or computers. With many of our students needing schools for this access, some of them will not be able to complete their projects, and that really makes me feel bad. BUT we are being positive and doing all we can to bring support to our teachers and students in this crazy time we are all experiencing. I feel very fortunate to contribute a little bit of creativity during this time.

 CD: How is physical distancing affecting your work flow?

MC: That’s funny. NOT AT ALL. We live in a tech world. I have been Skyping and Zooming from the beginning of time 😉. I am extremely disciplined and everyone knows I am a workaholic so its business as usual.

CD: What are you doing to stay engaged with your community during this strange time?

MC: Magenta has always been a community collaborator. Our community is a huge part of our family and we are doing all we can to stay connected and inspired. Aside from our Instagram takeovers, we have invited Toronto galleries be part of our Virtual Gallery Tours every Thursday and we keep finding ways to do fun things that you can listen to, draw, watch, or read. It’s important that we remind everyone that the arts are the reason we are getting through this! (and in no way am I taking away from the heroic hospital, grocery workers, and other essential workers). "Whichever way we can help", is our attitude.

CD: We're all spending a lot of time on social media right now. Whose work is getting your attention right now?

MC: I have been hunting all over Instagram for work for years. It’s the only place I look to see what people are doing. I tend to follow with a behind-the-scenes attitude and make notes or send inspiration of those that I think are doing exceptional work.

What I think we should be talking about is those image-makers that are constantly finding new ways to stay connected and are always working on their projects. During this time of uncertainty they are finding ways to keep us informed, keep their projects moving forward, and most of all include us. So here are some names I would personally like to thank for their grit, their generosity, and most of all the lesson they are putting forward for the rest of us to learn from: Rita Leistner, Louie Palu, Ryan Walker, Brett Gundlock, Lindsay Lauckner, Aline Smithson, and Kiana Hayeri. THANK YOU and please keep up the great work!

CD: Any advice you’d like to share to help others coping with working from home, or in isolation?

MC: I think my best advice to everyone is to remember this: The schedule you had is still the same. Your location has shifted, 'tis all.  For example; if you got up, went for a walk, went to work and came home at 6pm and made dinner and watched tv, THAT schedule is still the same.  Whatever your schedule was, it can still be applied. If you can think of #WFH as that, you will see that it’s all in how you look at it.

Deep breaths! Spring is here…summer is coming and if we all stick to this physical distancing plan, it will end!  Please stay safe and lets all flatten this curve together.

Visit: The Magenta Foundation

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