Colette Whiten





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Published on Mar 12, 2013

Colette Whiten
2013 Laureate, Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts

Directed by Pixie Cram (Ottawa)
Presentation of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Independent Media Arts Alliance
Co-production of the Canada Council for the Arts and SAW Video

For more information, visit: www.canadacouncil.ca
Colette Whiten - Transcription


I grew up in Oshawa. I got married at 18. I had my first child at 19 and my second child at 21. And I'd always been interested in art and I decided that I was going to go back to school.

I began just playing with plaster casting. And I was casting my friends, particularly male friends in those days. It was the early days of feminism and the fact that I was putting these men in precarious positions, in structures that had a medieval kind of character, and that was deliberate. It just took on a life of its own. And it all became part of a huge process where people were involved helping with the casting, people were involved documenting the work, and in the end I didn't know what to do with the product because the product became secondary.

I was thinking about how could you make the viewer aware of what was going on without all of the periphery documentation and that's when I realized I could use the moulds. When you see the mould you kind of fit yourself into it so you put yourself in the position of the person who was being cast. So the negative space became like the photographic documentation.

From then on I was in the right place at the right time. I was so lucky. Always I've been so lucky.

When my work changed from doing these huge structures and these huge, life-size things into this miniature needlework, I was scared to death because I myself didn't know whether I was taking it seriously. I thought, oh my god, this is women's work, this is busy work. Nobody is going to look at this and see that it has any artistic content or value.

I had no choice; I had to start at a new beginning. It all had to do with wanting to mull things over that were too relevant to just gloss over.

There was this notion of evidence of having been somewhere. It's a huge - whether it's an advantage or privilege - that we have that we can look at our train of thought for our lifetime, our trains of thought.


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