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Bettina Hoffmann: Spoilsport (Spielverderber)
July 15 to September 12, 2004

Curated by Sylvie Gilbert

Thursday, July 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Preceded by a tour of the exhibition with the artist and curator at 6 pm

Launching a catalogue produced in collaboration with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta

Bettina Hoffmann, Untitled | Sans titre, 2004
Bettina Hoffmann, Video stills from La ronde | Images tirées de La ronde, 2004
The Liane and Danny Taran Gallery of the Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts presents Spoilsport (Spielverderber), an exhibition of the cinematically-inspired photographs of Montreal artist Bettina Hoffmann.

By definition, a “spoilsport” is someone who wilfully prevents others from having fun. While this label instantly brings to mind children at play, a spoilsport could also be an adult who doesn’t want to participate in a particular game – the game of life, love or power. The title of this exhibition, Spoilsport (Spielverderber), carries an uneasiness and complexity that are echoed in Bettina Hoffmann’s work.

Hoffmann creates group compositions by photographing one person at a time, and then uniting the individual photographs digitally into a single large fresco. Her large-scale photos depict carefully constructed everyday scenes that are at once seductive and worrisome, curiously dramatic and familiar. Although each of the photographs’ subjects appears to be present in the same space, the photos produce the uncanny effect of everyone being in their own world.

Hoffmann’s oeuvre casts a lucid and unyielding gaze on the numerous facets of social relations. Children are the subjects of her latest photographic work; captured in everyday situations, they interact and play with each other. A depiction of innocence lost, Hoffmann’s children express a strange mix of youth and maturity, imitating and copying the world that surrounds them as they strike poses and take on roles that seem oddly adult-like and serious.

The Gallery will inaugurate the presentation of a video installation completed especially for the exhibition. For this work, titled La ronde, the camera tracks three mises-en-scène in a vertiginous spiralling circuit, representing, as Adrienne Lai points out in the exhibition’s accompanying catalogue, ‘domestic psychodramas.’

Visitors to the gallery will also have the chance to see, united for the first time, four recent photographic series including Maître et chien (2001), the Noir series (2004), the Sweets series (2004), and whole new untitled series.

Originally from Berlin, Bettina Hoffman is based in Montreal and has exhibited in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, England, the United States and Canada.

The Gallery gratefully acknowledges ongoing support form the ministère de la Culture et des Communications, The Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

Top image: Bettina Hoffmann, From the series Sweets | De la série Sweets, 2004