“masks 2021” exhibit

Since 1991, in fact way before, my immune system was collapsing to the point that, from 2003 to 2006, I had to wear a medical mask every time I stepped out of my house. Otherwise, I would catch all sorts of infections. On top, behind, or under it, I was suffering from fibromyalgia (chronic pain), multiple chemical sensitivities (intolerances to many, many substances), and more recently, ulcerous colitis.

Wearing a mask at the time was very unusual, so some  friends thought it would make a strong statement if I turned those masks into pieces of art. But since the different mediums I was working with were toxic for me, I declined the challenge, but called upon them to create a collection that was first exhibited in 2004.

After this first edition, the outpour of masks brought to me and the many conversations I had around it made me reflect on what was emerging from making public something that was so painfully close to my skin. The result, a second edition in 2009, which involved more than 120 masks, and two bodies of my personal work, antidotes and bonheur.

The third edition, presently displayed, incorporates some elements of the earlier exhibits as well as new masks created by 4 young girls and a mother, who also experimented with wearing a mask, but in their case because of the pandemic; and two new personal series transmission and portraits, a contemplation on what happen during this 12 year period between the second and the third edition of masks.

Most significantly, I was transformed into a grandmother by three little girls, and with it the urge to look at what I was going to pass on to them: the teachings and practices I had learned through more than three decades of being disabled; through as many years of research, and training in trauma, energy, ancestral medicine, soma work. Through my personal and an ongoing decolonization.

In retrospect, I had to ask why wasn’t I completely surprised when we ended up in lockdown in 2020?

Embodying an environmental disease taught me a lot about nature and humans when they are pushed to their limits, their sufferings translated into commodities for profit. When instead of investigating the deeper truths behind these shenanigans and taking the proper actions, devastating economic decisions and policies, that put us all in danger, are pushed forward.

Embodying an environmental disease relentlessly taught me about the importance of cherishing every relationship. The Earth, the other, the many bodies, especially racialized women, children and trans bodies, as well as my own disability and queerness, while we have been robbed of our agency since the enforcement of patriarchy, the ravages of the colonial worldview and the rampages of capitalism. While we have been relentlessly treated as objects, to be exploited or so-called protected, not as the caring beings/persons that we are, taking care of our communities and our loved ones. Soulfully engaged in co-creating loving, meaningful, reciprocal and sacred relationships.

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artwork 2021

portraits 2003 – 2020

  1. premonition? – 2003
  2. secular mask – 2020
  3. sacred mask – 2020
  4. festive mask – 2021
  5. being mask – 2021
  6. becoming mask – 2022

transmission / inner vision 2020

  1. city – mask Mario Beaudet
  2. tension/crisis – mask Lorraine Pritchard
  3. and the children in this – mask Marie Cornellier
  4. reflection/transformation 1 – citation Robin Wall Kimmerer
  5. joy – mask Michael Reinhart
  6. to blossom – mask Suzanne Hamel
  7. without forgetting the thorns – mask Marie Cornellier

transmission / integration 2018 – 2021

  1. praying for the trees – Charlie et Lilou
  2. in the street – Marie Cornellier, Charlie et Lilou
  3. experimenting genders – Marie Cornellier, Charlie, Lilou et Marie-Claude
  4. with the ancestors – Lilou
  5. reflection/transformation 2 – Lilou
  6. to put in practice – Lilou
  7. focus reconnection/regeneration

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creators 2004 – 2021

© masks 2004 – 2009
mixte media on white medical mask, 7 cm x 19.5 cm
Mario Beaudet, 2004, 2009
Liesbeth Bos, 2009
Elaheh (Liesbeth’s daughter-in-law & Nathaniel’s mother), 2009
Nathaniel (Elaheh’s son & Liesbeth’s grandson), 2009
Katia Breton, 2004, 2009
Meredith Carruthers, 2009
Suzanne Chan, 2004, 2009
Esther Cimet Shojiet, 2009
Mari.e Cornellier, 2004, 2009
Suzanne Hamel, 2009
Renée Lévesque, 2009
Ann Milligan, 2009
Lori Hazine Poisson, 2009
Lorraine Pritchard, 2004, 2009
Michael Reinhart, 2004, 2009
Karen Trask, 2004, 2009
Patsy Van Roost (Brel’s mother), 2004, 2009
Brel (fils de Patsy), 2004, 2009
Fred Ward, 2004, 2009
Burhan Zarhai, 2004, 2009
Marc (street artist), 2009

© antidotes 2007
mixte media on japanese paper, 13 cm
Mari.e Cornellier, 2009

© bonheur 2008
digital images, 20 cm x 30 cm
Mari.e Cornellier, 2009

© masks 2021
mixte media on blue medical mask, 9.5 cm x 14.5 cm
Lilou Cornellier (petite-fille de Mari.e), 8 ans
Lili Petrowski-Hanneman, 12 ans
Mila Petrowski-Hanneman, 9 ans
Victoria & Katrin Leblond (mère de Victoria), 8 ans

© masks 2021
mixte media on white medical mask, 10 cm x 15 cm
Victoria & Katrin Leblond (mère de Victoria), 8 ans

© transmission 2021
digital images, 40 cm x 29.5 cm
Mari.e Cornellier

© portraits 2021
digital images, 29.5 cm x 40 cm
Mari.e Cornellier

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all posts concerning masks

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artistic vision

I create from what is mine, 3 debilitating chronic diseases for the last 30 years. and not from what I do not have. since the pain does not allow me the weight of a reflex camera anymore, I use my most recent cellphone. anyway, I do not have the means, the diseases vampirizing my budget. as they are limiting my time in front of a screen, I am learning to surrender and deliver the digital images retouched, or not.

The compromise I would not make anymore, it is to not create.

I never was a photograph, but I never stop documenting; the inside, the outside of my daily life, which vary depending of the epochs and the seasons, the disease and healing, the lost and the awareness gained, my closed ones and my loves; as well as
my urban isolation;
the breathless, overturning and joyful chaos of my granddaughters;
my decolonization;
an ongoing conversation with my ancestors;
my resourcing, more than beneficial, on the Laurentien territory.

The treasures harvested are used as is, or as references for an ulterior creation, poetic or in 3 dimensions.

In fact, more than anything I tinker. I never stop tinkering, because I refuse any constrain that might become another limitation to the incalculable numbers I already live by. to be incapacitated, means to create differently. mainly in the respect of what is;
what links, nourishes my senses, my practices,
my need for connection, community, taking care
of the Living, what’s bigger than us;
of Life, including every beings, humans and other-than-humans.

mai 2021

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I thank the Festival international du masque du Québec – Masq’alors, and Michel Bachelet, or their invitation to participate in the 2021 edition. As well as le p’tit bonheur de Saint-Camille where masks 2021 is exhibited

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© copyright

All texts, artworks, images ©Mari.e Cornellier 2004 -2021
with exception when mentioned otherwise.