In/Tension with Caroline Monnet & Léuli Eshrāghi
“Too often in the media, Indigenous women are portrayed as abused, poor, uneducated victims,” explains Montreal-based Caroline Monnet, “They're often dull—in black and white—and that's not at all the women I have in my family, in my community, in my circle. Or how, at least in my experience of native women. So I wanted to change that representation and show them in their eccentricity, their resilience, their beauty, their humor, their extravagance.”
In our third and final French episode, multidisciplinary artists Caroline Monnet and Léuli Eshrāghi join host Diane Gistal to reflect on their respective creative practices. Whether Eshrāghi’s interest in language renewal and Indigenous futures or Monnet’s consideration of how Indigenous identity and bicultural living inform her work, the trio unfurl dynamic discussion of the inherent potentials of art making.
Courtesy Caroline Monnet.
Caroline Monnet is a multidisciplinary Anishnaabe artist from Outaouais, Quebec, Canada. With degrees in Sociology from the University of Ottawa in Canada and the University of Granada in Spain, Monnet specializes in using visual language and an examination of cultural histories to communicate the complex ideas within and around Indigenous identity. Often working with industrial materials typically found on reserves, Monnet’s work investigates the impact of colonialism on Indigenous cultures and peoples. The artist utilises a combination of modernist abstraction and the terminology of traditional visual cultures in order to produce her distinctive hybrid creations.
Caroline Monnet, Okikad 2023, bronze 15 in x 22 in x 12 in. Photo: Charlie Leroy. Courtesy of the artist and Blouin-Division Gallery.
Monnet has exhibited internationally and across Canada, with shows in institutions including the Whitney Museum, 2019; Arsenal Contemporary, 2018,2019, and 2023; the Toronto Biennale of Art, 2019; Venice Biennale, 2019; KØS Museum, 2022; the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, 2014 and 2021; the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, 2019; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2018, 2021, and 2022; and Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, 2020 and 2021. Additionally, her films have been screened at renowned film festivals like TIFF, Sundance, Aesthetica, and Cannes. Monnet’s work is included in a number of North American collections as well as the permanent UNESCO collection in Paris, France. Caroline Monnet's immersive installation Amik, 2023, is on view at The Power Plant from January 17 to March 24, 2024.
In addition to her exhibition record, Monnet boasts an impressive list of accolades. In 2020 alone, she received both the Pierre-Ayot award and the Sobey Art Award. Additionally, the artist was awarded the Merata Mita Fellowship and the REVEAL Indigenous Art Award, both in 2017.
Courtesy Léuli Eshrāgi.
Though living and working in Montreal, Léuli Eshrāghi was born in Yuwi Country and belongs to the Seumanutafa and Tautua clans of the Sāmoan archipelago. Working extensively as both a curator and artist, their practice highlights global Indigenous, Asian, and Black visual vocabularies, spoken languages, philosophies, politics, and ceremonial practices.
Installation view of afiafi, Léuli Eshrāgh, 2023, from the exhibition The National 4: Australian Art Now curated by Jane Devery at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Photo: Jenni Carter
As an artist, Eshrāghi has exhibited work at numerous major institutions, including the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, the Tate Modern, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Galerie de l’Université de Montréal, and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. They have also exhibited in a number of biennials, including The National 4: Australian Art Now, 2023; MOMENTA Biennale de l’image: Sensing Nature (2021); 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN, 2020; and Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber, 2019. Eshrāghi’s artwork is included in the collections of the Royal Bank of Canada and Fonds régional d’art contemporain, as well as in private collections in Australia, Canada, and Norfolk Island.
Eshrāghi has also curated a number of important shows such as the 8th TarraWarra Biennial, titled ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili, in 2023. Between 2021 and 2024, they were Curatorial Researcher at Large at the University of Queensland Art Museum and have mounted exhibitions in contemporary art museums in Canada, France, Australia, and New Zealand. Eshrāghi currently holds the position of Curator of Indigenous Arts at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.
In/Tension, produced by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, is a limited podcast series of intimate, thought-provoking and accessible conversations with emerging, mid-career, and established contemporary visual artists across Canada. In/Tension aims to shed light on the breadth of the Canadian contemporary art scene and provide a platform for diverse artistic voices to dive deep into their creative intentions and facets of their practice.
This project is supported by a Digital Now grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.