When preparing for in-situ installations, I research the historical context of a site to better understand what is invisible or overlooked in present-day circumstances. Sometimes this research takes its own path, such as in this photographic series, which grew from reading the journals of explorers whom I knew only as river names near my childhood home. Their first-person accounts of early contact between non-natives and Western First Nations hint at both viewpoints glimmering through the subtext.
Photographing pages from these books upside down, in daylight, returns the text to landscape and reveals the “rivers,” as the passages of white space are called in typesetting parlance. I trace these paths with clear acrylic, later visible only at oblique angles under certain lighting conditions. Although the resulting image is difficult to read as text, the tracery of reflected light, when visible, is no longer between the lines but becomes a writing of its own.
Karilee Fuglem, born in British Columbia, has lived and worked in Montreal since 1989, when she began an MFA at Concordia University (completed 1992). She has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and has been the recipient of numerous research grants. In 2012, she completed a permanent installation for Le Cirque du Soleil’s headquarters in Montreal. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and in private collections such as Bennett Jones and BMO Group, Toronto. In 2010 she was a finalist for the Prix Louis-Comtois.
Fuglem’s art is informed by the nonverbal subtleties that underscore life in a bilingual city. Sometimes constructed with thread nearly as invisible as the space it describes, or with familiar materials reimagined, her artwork speaks a subterranean language of light, movement, and visceral sensation, always in consideration of the known and hidden qualities of the environment in which it is experienced.