Isabelle Hayeur: Monography



Texts in French and English
360 pages — 359 reproductions
Hard cover — 12″ x 9.5″ (30.5 x 23.5 cm)

Production: Plein sud édition
Editors: Plein sud édition, Galerie d’art Antoine-Sirois at Université de Sherbrooke, and Salle Alfred-Pellan at the The Maison des arts de Laval

Price: $ 70 (CAD) / ISBN 978-2-922256-86-4

Isabelle Hayeur has obtained recognition in the contemporary art world both in Quebec and throughout Canada and abroad. Committed to the environmental cause since the 1990s, she observes and documents with a keen and critical eye the transformation of our ecosystem and the devastating impact of massive urbanization and industrialization on our land. Hayeur has transposed these compelling issues into images and words in a singular, on-target and tenacious manner. Her topics of investigation are the land, housing and water, images of which she manipulates digitally in various fashions in such a way as to raise doubts about the veracity of the landscapes depicted. The strategies she employs seek to make us think about the way in which we perceive and conceive our own surroundings.

This monograph, the most exhaustive publication to date on this artist’s work, leads us to the heart of her creative activity, bringing together numerous visual documents, from her composite photographs to portraits of citizen gatherings and activist groups by way of videos, installations in public spaces and reflective texts. This ambitious project was made possible thanks to the exemplary collaboration of Isabelle Hayeur, who, at every step of the process, demonstrated her openness, generosity and rigour. We are deeply grateful to her.

Published by Plein sud in co-edition with the Galerie d’art Antoine-Sirois of the Université de Sherbrooke and the Salle Alfred-Pellan at the Maison des arts de Laval on the occasion of the (D)énoncer event (exhibitions, publication and digital platform dedicated to the artist Isabelle Hayeur), this monograph accompanies the tripartite exhibition (D)énoncer [(D)enounce]. Coordinated by Plein sud and curated by Mona Hakim, the exhibition was presented in three regions of Quebec in the fall of 2020: at the Galerie d’art Antoine-Sirois of the Université de Sherbrooke, at Plein sud, centre d’exposition en art actuel à Longueuil and at the Salle Alfred-Pellan of the Maison des arts de Laval.

Isabelle Hayeur, born in 1969, is a lens-based artist known for her photographs and her experimental videos. She has also realized public art commissions, several site-specific video installations and photography books. Her work is situated within a critical approach to the environment, urban development and to social conditions. She is particularly interested in the feelings of alienation, uprooting and disenchantment.


The authors applied themselves to interpreting, each in her own manner, the many aesthetic and conceptual facets of this photographer and videographer’s ecological conscience. First, art historian, critic and exhibition curator Mona Hakim, undertakes an in-depth exploration of Isabelle Hayeur’s work as a whole, drawing from it the methods in play within the artist’s documentary approach. Concocted effects, doubt, visual ambiguity and dualities are among these methods which, part-way between dream and disenchantment, despair and fascination, create a vision of a world haunted by imbalances and contradictions. In addition, Isabelle Hayeur’s enunciations and denunciations are powerfully echoed by citizen groups on the level of infrapolitics, Hakim also tells us. For her part, Ann Thomas, Senior Curator of Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada, focuses on the series Desert Shores which Isabelle Hayeur carried out on the shores of the now drying-up Salton Sea. The still-present visual signs in this abandoned town, such as advertising billboards, tattered flags and graffiti covering the walls of houses in ruins, illustrate a community’s hopes and afflictions, but especially the failings of an America of unlimited possibilities. For Thomas, this body of work is an important stage in the artist’s output in that it brings together her environmental, social and human concerns. In the third text, the curator, writer and art critic Peggy Gale focuses on Isabelle Hayeur’s video work from the beginning of her artistic career, isolating the recurring forms which embody her ecological, philosophical and human orientations. In this work, movement, transformation over time and the conception and editing of the sound transpose a vital narrative and the artist’s stance without a word ever being spoken. Isabelle Hayeur’s voice and vision, Gale asserts, make up a repertoire of forms and a litany of humankind’s constant forgetfulness and perpetual complacency.

About Plein sud
A large part of the mission of Plein sud, an exhibition center for contemporary art in Longueuil [Plein sud edition] is devoted to the research and production of theoretical discourse on contemporary artistic creation, expressed in publications which accompany individual exhibitions or not directly linked to the exhibition programming but which aim to contribute to the knowledge, advancement and dissemination of art.

Plein sud is a member of the Collectif d’éditeurs d’art contemporain (CÉAC — Contemporary Art Publishers Collective)

Plein sud, centre d’exposition en art actuel à Longueuil
150, rue de Gentilly Est, local D-0626
Longueuil, J4H 4A9, Canada
(450) 679-2966

Photo credits: Denis Farley