Montreal artist Bettina Hoffmann’s exhibition Spoilsport, on display at the Saidye Bronfman’s Liane and Danny Taran Gallery until September 12, is all about playing. Curated by Sylvie Gilbert, the show presents a selection of the artist’s old and new photographic works, and premieres a video installation entitled La Ronde.
The idea that we all play predetermined roles in society, by our own volition or more often due to peer pressure, is arguably the thread that unites these pieces. Whether they are children hanging out, adults interacting at a party or family members gathered around a kitchen table, the characters that Hoffmann depicts in her photographs all seem uncomfortable with the parts they have been given. There is an uneasiness to these people that goes beyond everyday troubles and reaches that dreaded province of existential quandary. With her keen eye for the uncanny, the artist gives conventional relationships, emotions and situations a peculiarity that is both troubling and heartrending.
Not one to be seduced by the spontaneous dimension of the camera, Hoffmann produces meticulously constructed images – frequently with the help of digital media. The precision of her works makes it clear that Hoffmann’s role in the playing field we like to call art is much like that of a film director or dramaturge: nothing in Spoilsport – neither the method nor the characters – is allowed to stray.
Be sure not to miss independent curator and art historian Marie Fraser’s talk on Hoffmann’s work and narrative photography; September 9, 6 p.m., at the gallery.