Iris Häussler: The Sophie La Rosière Project is a novel in three dimensions that unfolds over three sites in Toronto, its mystery slowly unveiling itself. German-born, Toronto-based artist Iris Häussler, known for her elaborate fictional constructions, has been creating this Gesamtkunstwerksince 2009. Becoming a painter in the process, Häussler has produced the complete oeuvre of unknown French artist Sophie La Rosière, who died in 1948 and whose work was created earlier in the century. Häussler has created an artistic persona (a heteronym) through which to channel this fictitious artist’s secrets while, at the same time, fabricating a biography for her and an elaborate backstory of a hidden (lesbian!) erotic liaison that intersects, nonetheless, with real people, historical events, and actual artistic movements. Layer on layer is added to the mystery, which requires some creative forensics on our behalf: Why were these paintings abandoned? Why were they concealed by a layer of black encaustic? And, ultimately, what secrets do they conceal?
At AGYU, La Rosière’s mystery is encased in a reconstruction of her abandoned studio with its encaustic obscured paintings. At Scrap Metal (21 September – 17 December), the forensic investigation continues. The display there includes x-rays of paintings undertaken by the C2RMF laboratory (Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France), the official investigator in the project, as well as testimonies by and interviews with various French officials on the historical, artistic, and psychological circumstances of La Rosière’s life. Finally, La Rosière’s paintings are unveiled and their hidden subjects revealed in the restoration of the works exhibited at Daniel Faria Gallery, spring 2017. The Sophie La Rosière Projectwas undertaken by Iris Häussler in collaboration with Catherine Sicot, Director/Curator of Elegoa Cultural Productions. The AGYU exhibition is curated by Philip Monk. The Scrap Metal exhibition is curated by Rui Mateus Amaral. A book on the project will be co-published by the AGYU and Black Dog Publishing, London.
Iris Häussler would like to thank the following partners who contributed to the development of this project: Elegoa Cultural Productions (Toronto), Fondation des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques (FNAGP, Paris), La Villa Vassilieff (Paris), C2RMF (Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Paris), Le Consulat Général de France à Toronto (Toronto), The Michener Institute for Applie Health Services (Toronto), and Daniel Faria Gallery (Toronto).