Suzy Lake on the politics of gender, the body, and identity

Suzy Lake
May 25, 2017

big-ideas-logoSuzy Lake is among the first female artists in Canada to adopt performance, video, and photography to explore the politics of gender, the body, and identity. In her artistic practice, which spans nearly 50 years, Lake addresses the individual’s relationship to societal forces that break and reveal constructions or restraints built into our culture. As part of the 2017 ArtsEverywhere Festival, Suzy Lake delivered a Big Ideas lecture, which traces the trajectory of her artistic practice and voice, situating her work in the cultural context of the time it was produced. This event was co-presented by Musagetes, CAFKA, and the Art Gallery of Guelph.

Suzy Lake

Suzy Lake began her art practice in 1968.  Following the social and political unrest of the 1960's she emigrated from Detroit to Montreal (1968), and then to Toronto in 1978.  Active to the needs of her communities, she was a co-founder of Vehicule Art Inc. (Montreal, 1972) and the Toronto Photographers Workshop (Toronto, 1978).  Concurrent to her practice, Lake taught for 40 years in Montreal, Toronto, and received Professor Emerita status from the University of Guelph in 2008.   Lake was among the first female artists in Canada to adopt performance, video, and photography to explore the politics of gender, the body, and identity.  In 1993, she was the subject of a major mid-career retrospective, Point of Reference, organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in 1993.   Suzy continues to address the relationship of the individual to societal forces in order to reveal constructions and restraints that have been built into our culture.  In 2013, Suzy was awarded the Dazibao artist book prize and launched Suzy Lake: Performing an Archive in 2015.  In 2014 the Art Gallery of Ontario presented a full-career retrospective with a substantial book titled Introducing Suzy Lake.  Both books are available through Amazon.  Suzy currently lives and makes work in Toronto.

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