Performing an Archive continues Suzy Lake's exploration and questioning of social issues and identity. Drawing from research into her historical and familial ancestry, Lake bears witness—literally and figuratively—to the cycle of urban, demographic, and social development of working class Detroit. The city was marked in the 20th century by an economic boom, but in recent years has suffered from a striking decline with dramatic population shifts and racial tension. Through her documented performance, Lake visited locations in Detroit where her family members lived during the mid-19th century and up to the 1920s.

The resulting photographic works show the artist documenting these often decrepit locations and their surroundings. Lake emphasizes that recent revitalization efforts have gone beyond the Detroit business core: "the garbage and street litter in working class neighbourhoods are gone, indicative of hope and the critical role of community effort in development and urban planning."

This work was developed in 2014 through a Canadian Residency program in Detroit. The accompanying artist book was produced through Lake's Dazibao Prize (Montreal), awarded in 2013.

The principle exhibition of this new body of work, Suzy Lake: Performing an Archive, is on view at the McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, Ontario from May 5 to August 20, 2016 and will travel to the Art Gallery of Windsor in winter 2017.

Organized with Dr. Ihor Holubizky, Senior Curator at McMaster Museum of Art

2016 Finalist - Suzy Lake

Suzy Lake began her art practice in 1968, after moving to Montreal from her birthplace, Detroit, following the social and political unrest of the 1960s. 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 1972 she formed Véhicule Art Inc. with twelve other artists to establish one of the first artist-run centres in Canada. She moved to Toronto in 1978 where she became a co-founder of the Toronto Photographers Workshop. Lake taught for 40 years in Montreal, Toronto, and most recently as head of the University of Guelph photo department. Lake currently lives and makes work in Toronto.

Lake was the subject of a major mid-career retrospective, Point of Reference, organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in 1993. In 2007 Lake was one of 120 women in the historical show WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, an exhibition organized by Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art that toured to galleries across the U.S. and Canada, including the Vancouver Art Gallery. Lake's participation in historical exhibitions includes Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman, Suzy Lake, 1972-1978 (Santa Monica Museum of Art), The Pictures Generation (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Held Together With Water
(Sammlung Verbund, Vienna). In 2014 the Art Gallery of Ontario presented a fullcareer retrospective titled Introducing Suzy Lake.,,6343,00.html

Winner announced May 3, 2016.


Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts




Suzy Lake

Performing an Archive:
Scotiabank CONTACT
Photography Festival
Featured Exhibition

April 29 - June 4, 2016

Opening reception
Thursday, April 28, 6-8pm