Silent Fall, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington D.C.
Exhibition April 20 - July 16 2023
Review by Mark Jenkins, The Washington Post:
SILENT FALL - DOMINIQUE PAUL
Dominique Paul (born Montreal, Canada) is an uncanny observer and artistic interpreter of societal injustices. As a multidisciplinary artist she utilizes a variety of media including drawing, collage, performance, interactive media, and video to create imaginary hybrids to warn against the collapse of ecological-social-economic structures.
Paul emerged in the early 2000's with a heightened awareness to inequalities which she explored through a photography centered on the notion of multiple "selves". The work combines diverse geopolitical sites and beings to expand one's consciousness about the environment. This synthesis is achieved by creating a continuum between human, animal, and machine. Inspired by scholar Donna Haraway in her book Cyborg Manifesto (1985), Paul uses technology to comment on the impact of the patriarchal spirit, essentialism, and naturalism through the creation of her own cyborgs. 1
These power-dynamic themes have carried into the recent decade, as Paul created work centered on issues experienced by vulnerable populations and species. The incorporation of technology was now combined with found materials and stories of sites, as Paul reinterpreted their narratives through performance art practice and audience participation. Paul encourages the viewers to reflect on the choices they make in their relationships with the living, to inspire new ways of being together.
Silent Fall is the first museum survey to bring together the artist's preoccupation with the alarming state of the environment and its habitants. Damage from air, land, and water pollutions, pesticides, deforestation, and rising sea levels, among others, has reached a tipping point. These catastrophes impact migrations and cause entire insect and bird populations to disappear.
The show gathers together a number of the artist's signature works in an arrangement that immerses the viewers with the vulnerable species. The viewer is invited on a journey: from the metamorphosis of insects in the large-scale prints, featuring fauna and flora meshed with popular culture images, through the species of the North to South American canopy in galleries I and II. Gallery Ill serves as an educational hub for documentaries, images, and a wearable structure presenting the performative body displaying the artistic process.
Inspired by Rachel Carson's cautionary environmental science book Silent Spring (1962), the title Silent Fall amplifies the impact of human silence in light of continued environmental devastation. Sixty years later, the dual meaning of fall goes beyond the literal and seasonal imagery. Through the presentation of Paul's artistic practice incorporating images, sounds, and movements, visitors are urged to become active participants rather than passive viewers.
Silent Fall aims to create a communal space for reflection and dialogue, while cultivating a sense of empathy and agency for collective action. The Canadian artist serves as an oracle warning that what we see today, may not be here in the very near future. Silent Fall inspires us to collaborate as compassionate beings and reclaim our role as temporary guardians of a vanishing world.
Ayelet Danielle Aldouby, Curator