Catherine Bodmer


Text (excerpts) published in project brochure by 3e impérial, centre d'essai en art actuel à Granby in 2015, translation by Jo-Anne Balcaen

The quest for an ideal world or a lost paradise is a recurring theme that has been explored in remarkable ways in Catherine Bodmer’s photographic work. Neglected sites, vacant lots, and abandoned gardens represent spaces of open interpretation, spaces in transition that she perceives as zones of freedom.

Les paradis de Granby stems from a desire to reflect on our ideas and attitudes toward the organization of daily space, our relationship with nature, and more specifically the domestic garden. Establishing a link between the processes and current modes of thought in contemporary art with those that shape and inspire the vernacular garden, the project brough together the artist and local gardeners in a series of convivial group and individual get-togethers –visits to their gardens, conversations over tea– that took place mainly during gardening’s off season, from September to April. Bodmer favoured this point of view in order to observe the garden’s temporality, and its lesser-known, less spectacular states.

Over the course of their meetings, photographs, found images, literature, drawings, personal writing, anecdotes, souvenirs, tips, plants, bulbs and seedlings were exchanged between the artist and the participants. From this vast collection of shared images and writings, Catherine Bodmer conceived and produced a series of post cards in the form of a book that was launched as part of an in situ exhibition in a used bookstore.This presentation consisted of several elements: a window display containing a collection of objects gleaned from, or used during her numerous trips to Granby; a slideshow of images and quotes from the book; the discrete placing of post cards inside various books in the bookstore; the exchanging of stories with participants and the public; participatory readings, and tastings of floral infusions.

A blog created by the artist complements the project. It gives an account of her residency activities, the spaces that inspired her photo shoots, of her meetings and visits to the gardens… Fall gardens, winter gardens, community gardens, container gardens, playful gardens where natural flowers share space with artificial blooms, knick-knacks and animal figurines, whirligigs, yarn bombs and other curiosities, dormant plants in winter stored in homes, horticultural experiments, philosophical reflections, inspirations… The artist shares her discoveries and some of the thoughts that have nourished the evolution of the project.