Exhibitions | Bonjour Mon Amour | Vanessa Cornell

August 12th - 26th 2021

Navigating romantic relationships in the current day takes a very different shape than it has for previous generations. Cornell explores how women maintain control of their experience by engaging memory and intrigue, from a woman’s perspective.

Love letters have changed and evolved a lot over time – from written correspondence and poems to small oil paintings and printmaking processes through to the development and evolution of photography, symbols of love have taken many forms.

With the addition of cameras to mobile phones, sending a quick nude has further evolved the notion of a love letter. They are quick, easy, and often a playful interaction with those you love. Photos are shared daily and at times more erotic and raunchy than the letters that came before them. Nude selfies are often ill thought but justified as just keeping up with the times. For people who are away from home frequently or for those who live separately, these photos are a way to continue to connect. This need for connection has only been magnified by the current circumstances with the Covid-19 pandemic and makes further appreciate what selfies and sexting have to offer.

For many, selfies and nude-selfies have garnered an unfairly negative reputation and are continuously accused of being vapid or narcissistic and are often understood as a metonym for a brand of sexuality devoid of emotion; founded in vanity. People think of them as quite literally, "skin-deep", but there is (often) something more than that. But if we change our perspective, suddenly the selfie becomes the site of vulnerability, each photograph and drawing accentuate that this is just our body, the only one we have, and we present it in hope that it could be understood as beautiful.

This ambitious assemblage of work showcases the unscripted emotions and candid nature of chasing love and lust using photography, self-portraiture, and digital painting.

~ Vanessa Cornell's exhibition was part of CONTACT Festival, an annual event throughout Toronto showcasing lens-based projects by Canadian and international artists. https://scotiabankcontactphoto.com/2021/exhibition/vanessa-cornell-bonjour-mon-amour/

Exhibitions are presented at major museums, leading galleries, and artist-run centres, as well as site-specific public art projects, galleries and alternative spaces across the city. The Festival’s Programs include photo-book initiatives, lectures, artist talks, panel discussions, and workshops. CONTACT exhibitions and programs are free and open to the public, with some exceptions at major museums.  

CONTACT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to celebrating and fostering the art and profession of photography.

About the artist

Vanessa Cornell (b.1986) is a multi-disciplinary artist of Métis and Dutch descent based Southwestern Ontario. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from York University (2009), a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor (2014) and most recently a Post-Baccalaureate from NSCAD University (2018). She has participated in exhibitions throughout Canada and the United States, including the 2020 Montréal Papier Contemporary Art Fair with Studio 21 Gallery as well as Art Toronto. She has also been featured in art publications including Brenda Magazine (United Kingdom), Barbed Magazine (USA) and C-Print Journal (Sweden).