Enrique Ramírez. People Are Places

In collaboration with the École nationale supérieure de la photographie (Arles, France)

Curators: Marta Gili, Louise Déry

Artist: Enrique Ramírez

November 5, 2021 - December 18, 2021

Opening: November 4, 2021, 5:30 pm

Galerie de l’UQAM is hosting a major exhibition by Enrique Ramírez in collaboration with the École nationale supérieure de la photographie (Arles, France). Showcasing his first solo exhibition in Canada, the Chilean artist is known for his sensitive treatment of biopolitical themes both historical and current, such as the Pinochet dictatorship and the politics of migration, interpreted through the motifs of disappearance and the sea.

The exhibition

“How can we recall the past without reediting the present? How can we move forward while understanding what we’re leaving behind? How can we give back dignity to precarious bodies?” These are questions that guide the curators of People Are Places, which puts forth a dozen of Enrique Ramírez’s works under the themes of displacement and the sea.

Born in Chile in 1979 during the Pinochet dictatorship, Ramírez evokes in many of his works the bodies of the “disappeared,” those killed by the regime and often thrown into the sea. In the absence of tombs and graves to grieve these lives cut short by terror, this body of water becomes a place of memory and mourning. The exhibition also includes many references to modern-day migration policies and issues, where the sea is a kind of limbo in which civil rights are nullified.

Through videos, images, sound, texts and objects of great visual and poetic strength, Enrique Ramírez explores these concerns. The artist, who is met with great international success, is namely presenting a video titled Los durmientes (2014), a triple projection of monumental size that brings to light a troubling episode of the Chilean dictatorship, where some victims were thrown into the sea at great heights, bound to railway ties. The title, in Spanish, translates to both “sleepers” and “railway ties”.

Excerpt from the curators’ text:
“Studying his works, we see in the fluctuation of the waves, and hear in the sighing of the wind, beings that seem to come from nowhere, in danger of disappearing, of being left disembodied and faceless. And yet the artist succeeds in conjuring up, in his own words, ‘millions of stars shining on the seabed,’ transforming the risk of shipwreck and loss into an image of hope and a place for humanity.”

About the artist

Enrique Ramírez was born in Santiago, Chile. He lives and works between Paris and Santiago. He studied popular music and cinema in Chile before joining the postgraduate master at Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains (Tourcoing, France) in 2007. In 2013, he won the Prix des Amis du Palais de Tokyo (France) and, in 2014, the LOOP Fair Prize (Barcelona). He has since exposed in major venues such as Le Palais de Tokyo, Centre Pompidou, Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton and Grand Café, Saint-Nazaire, France; IX International Biennial of Art, Bolivia; Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico; Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, Santiago, Chile; and Centro Cultural MATTA, Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2017, he participated in exhibition Viva Arte Viva for the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Christine Macel. In 2020, he was a finalist for the Marcel Duchamp Prize (Paris). This past summer, his exhibition Jardins migratoires at the École nationale supérieure de la photographie was part of the Rencontres de la photographie d’Arles program. Ramírez is represented by Galerie Michel Rein (Paris, Brussels) and Die Ecke Arte Contemporáneo (Santiago).

About the curators

Louise Déry holds a PhD in art history, is the director of Galerie de l’UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal) and an associate professor for the Department of Art History, UQAM. Previously curator at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Québec City and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, as well as director of the Musée régional de Rimouski, she has curated many projects featuring artists such as Giuseppe Penone, Rober Racine, Sarkis, Nancy Spero, Dominique Blain, Françoise Sullivan, Michael Snow, Donatella Landi, Raphaëlle de Groot and Aude Moreau, amongst others. Curator of some thirty exhibitions abroad, including a dozen in Italy where she has collaborated with Sala Uno, La Nube di Oort and RAMradioartemobile, she was curator of the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2007, with a David Altmejd exhibition. At the 2013 and 2015 Venice Biennale she curated performances by Raphaëlle de Groot and Jean-Pierre Aubé. Déry has received the first Hnatyshyn Foundation Award for Curatorial Excellence (2007) and the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts (2014). She is also a member of the Royal Society of Canada, Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France and Compagne of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec. She lives in Montréal.

Born in Barcelona, in 1980 Marta Gili graduated with a degree in philosophy and educational sciences from the Central University of Barcelona. She has organized or curated numerous monographic and thematic exhibitions in the fields of photography, video and contemporary art, and has published over 300 texts devoted to historical and contemporary artists and thematic exhibitions. She has also participated in many seminars and conferences, and gives courses in institutions of higher education in France, Spain and other countries. Her texts have been published in several artists’ monographs and works on theory. She was the director of the Photography and Visual Arts Department at Fondation La Caixa (Barcelona) from 1991 to 2006 and director of Jeu de Paume (Paris) from 2006 to 2018. Since 2019 she has been the director of the École nationale supérieure de la photographie in Arles (France). In 2013 she became a member of the advisory committee of the Museo nacional centro de arte Reina Sofía (Madrid). In 2019 she was appointed Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Letters, France.

Upcoming catalogue

Accompanying exhibition Enrique Ramírez. People Are Places, this publication will be co-published by Galerie de l’UQAM (Montréal) and the École nationale supérieure de la photographie (Arles). In three languages (French, English and Spanish), it will include a comprehensive documentation of the Montréal exhibition, as well as the French iteration presented at the École nationale supérieure de la photographie in the summer of 2021 under the title Jardins migratoires. Readers will find essays by Marta Gili in conversation with Enrique Ramírez, Louise Déry on the concept of the missing image and Nelly Richard, a Chilean cultural theorist specialized in contemporary art during and after the Pinochet dictatorship. The launch is set to take place in 2022.

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