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During her residency at Malaspina, Heather Passmore worked with Val Loewen to create ten prints that combine photolithography and acrylic paint on found antique hand drawn sheet music manuscripts. The series explores specific historical representations of sexuality which destabilize contemporary pornography and sexual epistemes. The works re-present pornographic prints by anonymous artists of the Enlightenment era on handwritten sheet music to Haydn—a prominent classical composer of the same period.
Although the age of the libertine is the only period in early modern history that shares the sexual liberalism of our own, Passmore’s research of erotic prints circulated in this era reveals a number of fundamental differences to modern pornography—namely a great emphasis on humour and fertility. This ‘earthier’ eroticism or naturalism within the realm of 18th Century libertinage frequently includes putti as a decorative element within the image. Both profane and sacred, their iconography is perhaps deliberately unfixed. The same image may contain secular cupids, sacred cherubs, or mere mortal babies.
18th Century prints often incorporate elements of self-reflexive ribaldry. Passmore’s mixed media works present depictions of sexuality which combine bawdiness and humour within opulence and grandeur. Many prints simply celebrate sexuality. Cultural pleasures such as games and music are often presented as components of sexual behavior and/or equivalent pleasures. Although erotic imagery is contentious, its re-presentation is a much needed counterpoint to contemporary pornography.
Heather Passmore is a contemporary artist based in Vancouver, Canada. For the past ten years she has exhibited extensively in major solo and group exhibitions across Canada and internationally. Her practice reconfigures painting, drawing, printmaking and photography with a variety of socio-historically laden materials. Heather’s artwork frequently intersects social justice issues using materials which bear histories of taste and accumulations of labour. These have included illegal milk from community supported agriculture, linoleum from demolished Vancouver real estate, abandoned mattresses and art world form letters.
Heather obtained an MFA from the University of British Columbia. She frequently conducts artist talks at universities and galleries. Her critical essays and reviews have been published locally. Heather has been awarded a number of project assistance grants from the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts and she has received several contemporary art prizes. Heather has completed numerous international artist residencies and public artworks at home and abroad. Her work is held in both private and official public collections such as the Vancouver Art Gallery.
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