Artful Musing

THE ARTFUL BLOGGER: How to pose nude while fully clothed — Carleton University Art Gallery’s latest exhibit

By Paul Gessell

"Wall Street" by Cara Tierney.

Cara Tierney seems to take the Bible, or at least one passage, to heart: Go Forth and Multiply.

That is exactly what this emerging artist has done. She has created a series of staged photographs in which she plays all the parts in the narrative. Sometimes Tierney poses alone. In other images, there are several versions of Tierney interacting with each other like a group of remarkably similar looking best friends.

The result is an intriguing exhibition at Carleton University Art Gallery titled Go Forth and Multiply.

Some of the photographs have a vaguely familiar look. That is because Tierney has recreated poses by such artists as Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli and Canada’s Edwin Holgate from the Group of Seven. The models in the originals were nude. Tierney tends to pose clothed, wearing a T-shirt that says Nude.

“Tierney’s photographs ultimately propose personal identity as a fluid and open construct, open to negotiation,” says Sandra Dyck, curator of the exhibition and the gallery’s new director. “As Cara has said, the obsessive multiplication of the self in the photographs not only raises the idea of a fractured self, but is a deliberate response to the lack of visible queer subjects in mainstream society.’”

"Nude in a Landscape" by Cara Tierney

Tierney was looking a little fatigued at the recent opening of the exhibition. That’s because earlier in the day, she had to defend her Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis at the University of Ottawa. Essentially, Tierney was defending the art in the Carleton exhibition.

“You just get a pass or a fail and I passed,” Tierney exclaimed.

Tierney’s photographs are reminiscent of another young Ottawa star, Genevieve Thauvette, whose most celebrated body of work is the artist posing, simultaneously, as all five of the Dionne Quintuplets. Very mischievous and very dark.

Thauvette is preparing a new body of work based on Les Filles du Roy, the so-called King’s Daughters sent to New France so all the early, mainly male, habitants would have someone to marry. The exhibition will be Sept. 13 to 26 at her dealer, St. Laurent+Hill Gallery in the ByWard Market. The show will overlap with Ottawa’s first Nuit Blanche Sept. 22. Expect to be shocked and awed, judging by the teaser image Thauvette emailed me of herself posing as a very naughty nun.

Tierney’s exhibition at Carleton continues until Sept. 30, also overlapping with Nuit Blanche and with Festival X, the citywide photo extravaganza that runs Sept. 20 to 30.