When she approaches a newsstand, Montreal-based artist Myriam Dion often buys 20 copies of that day’s paper — at times, even more than that. She then takes the stack to her studio, where she uses an X-Acto knife to cut away at the flimsy sheets, creating a mosaic of chopped-up texts and patterns centered on a photograph of the day she finds especially arresting. After two years of cutting, she has amassed a news archive of sorts that records through delicate designs some of the largest stories to make headlines around the world.Recently exhibited by Division Gallery at last month’s Art Toronto fair, her series of cutouts largely remain devoid of any legible text, honoring the original story through her patient handiwork. Created in the context of a media-saturated era with content built on fast-paced publishing and shareability, her works suggest approaching the news with patience and comprehensiveness.
Literal everyday objects, rather than getting thrown away, thus transform into lace-like works depicting individual stories, and photographs, originally visual aids, become the main focus and the starting point to explore a news item. Dion’s painstaking treatment, however, separates works from the rapidly digestable, Instagram-style photo-as-story, with her elaborate geometric designs and novel arrangements instead capturing and arresting the eye.“I am creating a new newspaper that can be interpreted, that encourages people to think more deeply about the news that we consume too easily,” Dion told Hyperallergic. “My intention is to slow down the look of the viewer. I worry that we are absent-mindedly skimming the surface of the things, and that we are getting lost in the rush.”
One work commemorating the April 2014 South Korean ferry disaster, for instance, scales down a small, red lifeboat, surrounding it with wild swirls of blue and white, all bordered by ornate embellishments that evoke not only the chaos of the event but also the convoluted debates and conflicts that ensued about the government’s culpability in the incident. Another tells the story of refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh in Malaysia simply through a pair of hands clutching a chain-linked fence; the anonymous fists occupy a small, lower corner of the page, with the fence dissolving into dense black-and-white lines punctured by small holes, transformed into a web that recalls an overwhelming but fragmented network of the displaced. Most of Dion’s cut-outs center on such heavy-hitting topics; her recreations, evocative of mandalas and stained glass windows, encourage prolonged meditation on these events rather than a quick read of a story followed by the turn of a page.
The Huffington Post
Every morning, Myriam Dion takes a walk to a nearby newsstand. She buys a newspaper and reads it cover-to-cover. Then, she proceeds to cut it up.
A young, Montréal-based artist, Dion uses newspapers as the medium for her work, which involves creating cutouts out of broadsheets, obscuring the original print in order to make her own message clear.
“By cutting the newspaper, I’m putting off the text and the information, the object loses his utility and the viewer is therefore pushed to see it in another way,” Dion told The Huffington Post.
So, an article about a Syrian child preparing for a performance of “King Lear” is completely obfuscated by Dion’s paper replication of geometric tile work. Only the image of the costumed subject remains at the piece’s center, above a caption about maintaining a sense of joy amid violence.
In another piece, Dion covered an image of gathered bishops honoring the Pope with tiny, patterned squares and triangles, making an otherwise mundane photo a fantastical sight.
“My studio is full of images of units from manual works, mostly lace, embroidery and weaving,” Dion said. She draws inspiration from the ancient Chinese tradition of paper cutting, learned by girls in rural towns for decorative purposes.
Her eye for decoration is clear, especially in a work sprucing up a Financial Times article about an Indian election. The original photo shows a line of citizens, presumably waiting to vote. But Dion adds textures and patterns to their clothes and setting, connecting the disparate voters by shrouding them in a mutually shared aesthetic.
“By crafting thoughtful mosaics out of the world events, I question our appetite for sound-bite news and sensational art, showing the quiet power of a patient hand and an inquisitive eye,” Dion said. “I am creating a new newspaper that can be interpreted, that encourages people to think more deeply about the news that we consume too easily.”
Bulletin de la Galerie - Gallery Newsletter
Myriam Dion's current exhibition at Galerie Division runs until January 17th and represents the final project of her master's degree in visual and media arts at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM). This is the artist's first solo exhibition at Galerie Division.
Myriam Dion at Galerie Division’s Booth
Dion’s intricate and skillful cutouts of newspaper pages take the mundane and straightforward and turn it into something luminous and treasured. The visual effect is complex and impressive, as is the emotional resonance of taking the didactic version of a day and turning into something enigmatic and lasting.