Houses That Hold, Homes That Let Go
Whether working alone or with invited family members, Rachel Echenberg’s art practice is a poetic yet tense exploration of the space she occupies, shares and negotiates. Her work reflects on her shifting connection to and isolation from others, broaching the inherent instability of domestic and social relationships.
The home, a ripe and recurring theme in Echenberg’s work, is an elastic and porous space. Constantly reshaped by the actions of those bound to it, the home expands, contracts, holds and releases over time. This movement is not without tension.
Echenberg’s performances are similarly built on tense but subtle transformations. As common yet fragile materials such as paper or glass are manipulated, pressure very quietly builds and releases, at times to the point of destruction. Objects therefore become compelling metaphors for the difficulty of representing notions of the home, and the relationships that exist there.
Executed with casualness and simplicity, Echenberg’s artistic vocabulary avoids the saccharine romanticism and overt drama one might expect from artwork addressing such intimate themes. The home she constructs reveals its bonds and fissures in fragments, via glimpses through curtained windows and whispers through cracks in the walls. So, despite the acute precision of her actions, the narrative is deciphered gradually over time. As such, Echenberg’s evocative work is an invitation to pause, and softly reflect on the complex relationships we both depend on and strive to escape.
Rachel Echenberg is a Montreal-based visual artist working in performance, sculpture, photo and video. Since 1992, Echenberg’s work has been exhibited, performed and screened across Canada as well as internationally in Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and the United States. Echenberg holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax (1993) and an MA from Dartington College of Arts in the UK (2004). She currently teaches in the Fine Arts Department at Dawson College in Montreal.
Michelle Lacombe (Montreal, QC) has developed a conceptual art practice based on the body since her graduation from Concordia University in 2006. Her work has been shown in Canada, the USA and Europe in the context of performance events, exhibitions and colloquiums. Her practice as an artist is carried out in parallel with a strong commitment to support alternative models of dissemination and live art practices. She has worked with a number of Montreal artist-run centres such as articule and La Centrale Galerie Powerhouse, and is currently the director of VIVA! Art Action, a biennial performance art festival. In addition, she has had numerous and varied experiences curating, writing and resisting mainstream culture.