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#103 1013 vancouver st.
Victoria, BC
Canada

ineffable is a literature & arts magazine that seeks to rouse and relish in the “unspeakable”: the erotic voice, the spiritual fever, the fiercely beautiful. We seek to provide established and up-and-coming artists with a medium for representation, displaying earnest work and creativity while withholding nothing. ineffable is an experiment in open identity and self-expression.

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Lauren Fournier

Lauren Fournier is a maker of sound, video, performance, and text that explores the conceptual, the feminist, the sex-positive, and the hysterical. She is currently a PhD candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow in the Department of English at York University. Her research focuses on emergent trends in contemporary feminist practice, paying particular attention to the intersections between theoretical fiction & auto-theory, art writing, and time-based media (performance, video). She holds an MA in English (SFU) and a BA in Fine Arts (Regina). In addition to her art practice and academic work, she has worked as a gallery facilitator, zine producer, and community mental health and harm reduction worker. She is currently on the programming committee of the Feminist Art Conference and the Board of Directors of Trinity Square Video. Her work has shown at galleries and alternative spaces across Canada. She is currently based in Toronto.

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Lauren Fournier is a maker of sound, video, performance, and text that explores the conceptual, the feminist, the sex-positive, and the hysterical. She is currently a PhD candidate and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow in the Department of English at York University. Her research focuses on emergent trends in contemporary feminist practice, paying particular attention to the intersections between theoretical fiction & auto-theory, art writing, and time-based media (performance, video). She holds an MA in English (SFU) and a BA in Fine Arts (Regina). In addition to her art practice and academic work, she has worked as a gallery facilitator, zine producer, and community mental health and harm reduction worker. She is currently on the programming committee of the Feminist Art Conference and the Board of Directors of Trinity Square Video. Her work has shown at galleries and alternative spaces across Canada. She is currently based in Toronto.

We talked to Lauren about the practice of art and feminism. Featured here is the photo series "Misremembering, 1990s Erotica" and the video "Is it bad to be a witch?"

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Lauren: "Feminism is an important stance that I take in my life and my art. I found feminism as a 19 year-old undergraduate student going through a period of destabilizing upheaval. Feminism, as it was introduced to me in Introduction to Women and Gender Studies, became a means for me to articulate experiences that I did not previously know how to articulate. I began to understand phenomena like the cycle of abuse, and that gender and sexual orientations are constructs rather than givens. My discovery of feminism, along with my newfound capacity to have a studio art practice (through my Intermedia studio courses with Rachelle Viader-Knowles), was key in my development as a young adult. I found myself coming out of the closet, so to speak—as an artist, as an intellectual, as a feminist, and possibly even as queer. My feminism and my art began as a means of survival and have evolved into an integral and fulfilling part of my daily lived practice.

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'Misremembering, 1990s Erotica' is a series of macro photographs of found postcards sourced from Glad Day Bookshop in Toronto. As the world’s oldest operating LGBTQ bookstore, Glad Day is both an important community hub and a rich, living archive. I live close to the shop, and frequently forage through their images and texts. I consistently gravitated toward the bisexual erotic postcards from the 1990s and began to collect them. As an artist, I sought ways of re-contextualizing these found images and infusing them with new meaning. I am intrigued by the malleability of memory, particularly as it relates to charged memories of suffering or desire. Can we be nostalgic for things that we have never lived through or experienced ourselves? Of course we can. Something that also strikes me as an emerging artist is the entangled relationship between fashion and art, art and design. I’m witnessing a lot of art students who want to be fashion photographers, which isn’t a problem in and of itself. But I do wonder about the role of art moving forward, and whether or not it is wise to conflate art and fashion. Can art fulfill a different function than fashion can? Does art possess the potential for conceptual remove, a capacity for critiquing the capitalist and patriarchal structures that be

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'Is it bad to be a witch?' is a single-channel video which features myself, the artist, performing for the camera. I am topless, wearing a pentagram necklace and repeating the provocation 'Is it bad to be a witch?' I was raised as an Evangelical Christian, and was actively involved in my Church as a teenager. My decision to 'leave the Church' once I started university marked a rupture in my personal narrative. My need to find new sources of nourishment (spiritual or otherwise) and new foundations for identity has been an ongoing process. 'Is it bad to be a witch?' holds a complicated place for me: it touches on inner conflicts related to my relationship with my mother (one of my best friends, whose Born-Again Christianity is likely the most important thing in her life, next to her family) and my relationship to the decisions I’ve made as a young adult. 'Is it bad to be a witch?' Is it bad to be liberated, intuitive, in charge of my own path? Is it bad to use tools like tarot cards? Is it bad to be a critical thinker? Is it bad to be attuned to one’s dark side? Is it bad to be intimate with this darkness? Is it bad — naughty, sexy — to be a witch? Is it titillating? Is it bad to be titillating? Is it good to be a witch? Is it the bad-kind-of-good to be a witch?

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The iterative nature of this performance-on-video opens up space for multiple readings of this provocation. My friend and sometimes-collaborator, Jen MacDonald, who is a beautiful soul + Toronto-based performance artist, has explored what she calls 'the witch in church' in her sound practice. Jen and I are wrestling with similar issues in our work, having come from similarly religious backgrounds. We did a performance and sound collaboration together back in April, entitled No Future Fertility Ritual, at White House Studio Project (Toronto). It was a fruitful manifestation of our practices coming together, creating a pseudo-spiritual, hyper-natural, techno-femme-pagan ‘safe space’ to explore such loaded issues as the lack of futurity.

While my politics and aesthetics are aligned with feminism, I think it’s worth noting the role that ambivalence plays in my understanding of the feminist position. My favourite writer is Chris Kraus, known for books like Aliens & Anorexia (2000) and I Love Dick (1997). Kraus is contentious for many reasons, not least of which is her explicitly ambivalent stance toward feminism—even though books of hers, like I Love Dick, is deeply feminist in its form and themes. Kraus asks why she should have to identify as feminist when men can consistently 'transcend' their gender. In I Love Dick, for example, she says:

'Dear Dick, I’m wondering why every act that narrated female lived experience in the 70s has been read only as ‘collaborative’ and ‘feminist’. The Zurich Dadaists worked together too but they were geniuses and they had names' (Kraus 150).

Chris Kraus is an important figure for post-punk feminist literature, in her capacity as an author and publisher/curator of Semiotext(e)’s Native Agents series. And yet she underscores her ambivalence, noting the potentially limiting effect of ghettoizing smart women writers and artists as 'feminist artists' rather than just 'artists.' An article was published through MOMUS this month, entitled 'Are Sex Differences Getting in the Way? The Limits of Gender-Based Curating.' I am thrilled to be an artist in a feminist exhibition currently on display in Toronto (***Flawless at Younger Than Beyonce Gallery) and to be on the programming committee for the upcoming Feminist Art Conference at OCADU in September, and to have had a hand in curating various feminist exhibitions and zines. And yet, I’m aware of the potential problems that come with curating feminist exhibitions, and the limits of doing so. I’m also cognizant of how on the one hand it’s great that feminism has been 'trending' on the internet this past year—as a means of making it more widely accepted by the mainstream—while on the other hand we should be wary of it being appropriated by the capitalist (patriarchal) structures that be and sold back to us. I personally resist the commodification of feminism and the commodification of art."

Visit Lauren's website to view more of her beautiful multimedia work. 

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Images, words, and video © Lauren Fournier, reproduced with permission.