Correspondance en ligne entre Elizabeth Chitty et Caroline Monnet

Maison de la culture Côte-des-neiges, May 24, 25, 26, 2012
5290, chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges, Montréal

Both artists reflect on their practice, their relationship to the environment, and on their respective cultures - as aboriginal and non-aboriginal - in the construction of their identities and the creation of their works.


Hi Caroline,
This week my colleagues and I finished a proposal for a work to be built with the participation of the public on a theme of water. The Call to Artists required teams of 3 artists, at least one of who must be bi-lingual (French and English) and the Call was put out with an extremely short turnaround. We put together our team easily and needed to bring in a fourth person with certification around structures. So now we sit and wait, but presumably not too long, for the results.

In Transit

Good day Elizabeth,
Your last question is not rude at all. It shows a degree of curiosity and interest in the way I look at the reality I live in, according to my experiences. I do not believe generational change and push-back mean cultural loss, like any other culture in the world, we are not stuck in time. We keep moving forward, intermarrying and travelling.


Hi Caroline,

Visits and re-visits

Hi Caroline,
The notion of our childhood investigations of nature informing our work is certainly one that resonates for me and of course I moved back to the place I grew up, although I grew up in a town and it is the rural and woods landscape here that speaks to me so loudly. I remember the shock of rural Niagara straight from Queen and Spadina in Toronto. The first installation I ever made was really about that shock; it was called The View of the Landscape From Here (1990) and I have attached an image.


Dear Elizabeth,
Thank you for sharing the image of your father.
I am now back in Montréal after spending the week up North. Once again, I am packing my things to go spend the summer in France. Since an early age, I am used to packing and moving, and I am quite comfortable with the element of change. My parents moved houses quite a bit when my sister and I were young and consequently, I see patterns reoccurring in my own life. Traditionally, Algonquin people were nomads and I like to think that this way of life persist in my blood memory.

Foundry image

Dear Caroline,
I wish you and your colleagues a very rewarding time! I look forward to hearing more. Here is the image of the foundry where my father worked and which I will be using in the next Guardian of Niagara constructed photograph, as you request. The photo was taken in 1952.

Manifactured Memories

Dear Elizabeth,
I am writing to you from God’s Lake Narrows, a Cree community of about 2300 people, situated in Northern Manitoba. I flew from Montréal to Winnipeg, and then on a small plane during two hours to get here. I am spending one week here to work on the production of DE NORT, an interactive documentary project for the National Film Board of Canada. This project is done under the ITWÉ name, an all ensemble indigenous artist collective composed of Kevin Lee Burton, Sébastien Aubin, and myself.

The Territory of Factory

What a beautiful image accompanied your last post! In answer to your question about the tree project – my collaborator and I have discussed documenting the veteran trees in downtown St. Catharines (we love the nomenclature of “veteran”) and talking to residents who live close to these trees. We see the images, audio and potentially video of this documentation manifesting in many ways over years.

When Everything Is In Flux

Dear Elizabeth,
It seems like the arrival of Spring is always a synonym of a busy time. Things start moving faster, new projects and opportunities arise and everything in our surroundings is altogether much more alive. By the sound of it, you are certainly working as hard as a busy bee with all the projects you are starting at the moment. I am sure this is a very exciting time for you.

New collaborations

Dear Caroline,
Forgive the delay in posting and thank-you for your response to my query about your work. I think your approach to the Atlantic Ocean is very wonderful and will yield such a rich experience and resulting work. I too will try and talk about work that is not yet made.

In Conversation With The Landscape

Good day Elizabeth,

It is hard to describe a project that has not been produced yet, but I can tell you more about my intentions behind it.

Post 4

Dear Caroline,
Please tell me more about your plans for your Atlantic voyage! Do you expect to have a daily artistic practice? Are you working on the ship or a passenger? What an adventure this will be and I curious to learn how it will inform your work. I saw Ellie Ga’s performative lecture at Images Festival last year of her journey working on an Arctic voyage, it was very interesting.

The Element of Change

Dear Elizabeth,

I am happy to hear about the events happening in your area. I have been a fan of Shelly Niro’s work for a couple of years and can imagine the event was a success.

Communities and being in our skins

Dear Caroline,
Yes! “working with a specific environment or location might also be part of a reconciling process for the individual (artist) and the community” – good thought, thank-you.

"Underground" is an antique term

Dear Elizabeth,
Congratulations on submitting for a major grant and for manifesting a new body of work! I love how your work is intensively centered around a geographical location that is close to you and I hope it works out the way you envision it.


Dear Caroline,
I would love to get to Winnipeg to see your installation! It thrills me to read about your process and journey into your ancestors’ social, political and spiritual connections with the beaver. The weave between those strands is so very interesting.

Land As A Starting Idea

Dear Elizabeth,
I appreciate your sense of place and your deep respect for the land that surrounds you. I share your sentiment of being more rooted to the land than to a sense of belonging to a social class. The work I do becomes an immersion into the complex and distinctive reality of a specific geographical region, that is intimately connected to my own personal relation.

Which Territory?

Dear Caroline,
Thank-you for starting off our correspondence and posting the photo of your beautiful work. Your post resonates with something that has recently been in my mind; throughout my life I have had few thoughts and little gratitude for my ancestors. (This has been in my mind because I often make a prayer that includes calling to the ancestors. In this prayer I make a point of including blood ancestors and spiritual ancestors, because they are different).

Whose Territory?

The work that I do, and almost everything I do in life, is aimed to understand the complexities of my personality. This can go from where I come from to where I want to go, how to be a better person and a more skilled professional. So I know I come from two strong distinctive backgrounds, one that is Algonquin from the Gatineau region, and one that is French from Brittany. It is fair to say that both territories continue to stimulate and inspire my art practice.
I only really started exploring interdisciplinary art forms after I made the short film Ikwé (woman) in 2009.

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