Caroline Monnet


Caroline Monnet, "Echoes From A Near Future" © the artist

Caroline Monnet (Algonquin) is a visual artist and filmmaker of Algonquin and French-Canadian descent born in Ottawa, Ontario, and raised between Douarnenez, France, and the Algonquin territory of Outaouais, Québec. Her work grapples with the impact of colonialism, utilizing film and other media to examine cultural histories and communicate complex ideas about Indigenous identity and bicultural living. Combining the vocabulary of popular and traditional visual cultures with the tropes of modernist abstraction, she has developed a signature style that employs the use of industrial materials to create unique hybrid forms. She received Baccalauréat Lettres from Lycée Claudel (2003) and a BA in Communications and Sociology from the University of Ottawa and the University of Granada (2006). Her film and visual artworks have been exhibited widely at venues around the world, including Palais de Tokyo, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the Whitney Biennial, Toronto Biennale of Art, Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Toronto International Film Festival, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Urban Shaman Gallery, Busan International Short Film Festival, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, National Gallery of Canada, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, among many others. She is the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships, and grants including the Hayshtin Foundation Award (2017), the Sobey Art Award (2020), Prix Pierre-Ayot (2020), The Hopper Prize (2021), and a Golden Sheaf Award from Yorkton Film Festival (2016), as well as grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and Conseil des arts de Montréal. Her work is represented by Blouin Division Gallery. She lives and works in Montréal, Quebec.  

ONLINE SCREENING DATES: January 9 – January 30, 2023

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Mobilize, 3 min, 2015; Ceremonial, 3 min, 2018
This series is co-selected and presented with COUSIN collective and is generously funded by a Digital Now grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Mobilize, 3 min, 2015

Guided expertly by those who live on the land and driven by the pulse of the natural world, Mobilize takes us on an exhilarating journey from the far north to the urban south. Over every landscape, in all conditions, everyday life flows with strength, skill, and extreme competence. Hands swiftly thread sinew through snowshoes. Axes expertly peel birch bark to make a canoe. A master paddler navigates icy white waters. In the city, Mohawk ironworkers stroll across steel girders, almost touching the sky, and a young woman asserts her place among the towers. The fearless polar punk rhythms of Tanya Tagaq’s “Uja” underscore the perpetual negotiation between the modern and traditional by a people always moving forward. – NFB

Ceremonial, 3 min, 2018

Given the importance and abundance of ceremonial practices to most Indigenous communities, there is an inevitable curiosity from the outside world to “know” or “see” how these sacred rituals play themselves out. But can anything remain sacred and private in a world that demands immediacy and a projected image of what sells unscrupulously as the truth? Can Indigenous communities practice their cultural beliefs without the fear of a camera trying to capture the ceremony?

Often, this quest for forbidden knowledge speaks to ravenous cultural consumerism and a lack of guidance from a non-Indigenous standpoint. The narrative is built on a collage of original 16mm, 8mm, and digital footage pieced together to provide a hypnotic rhythm that draws us inward to remind us that some ritualistic practices are confidential and belong exclusively to the communities who perform them.

Monnet’s entire career has been about bridging disparate identities. Her installations merge modern art with Indigenous tradition. For her 2017 exhibition Memories We Shouldn’t Speak Of, Monnet made sculptures from hair dripping in tar—a nod towards the tar sands and Indigenous beliefs that hair holds onto memories. Her short films often feature Indigenous people going on a journey of some kind, reaching back into their heritage in modern times or connecting their history with their future.

For Monnet, whose father is French and mother is from Kitigan Zibi, these are expressions of the space she occupies, and a reclamation, finding a sense of pride in her identity and heritage. Even Bootlegger, which is the first feature to be shot in Kitigan Zibi, was an opportunity to connect with the distant cousins and community she only visited during family occasions and powwows.

“It was really, really important for me to spend time there,” says Monnet. “To work with the community, for them to get to know me better, for me to know them better.” – Radheyan Simonpillai

Read the full article about Caroline Monnet’s practice in NOW Magazine.

Watch an interview with Caroline Monnet at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Visit Caroline Monnet’s website to learn more about her work. 

All stills, photographs, and artwork courtesy © Caroline Monnet. Screening co-presented with Art Windsor Essex (AWE) and Prismatic Ground.