The Sweetsburg Archives
Jonathan Reid Sévigny
9×12 inches, 112 pages, full colour
hardcover, $25, bilingual E/F
Translations by Emmanuelle Demange
Artist site here.
Jonathan Reid Sévigny was born and raised in Cowansville, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, a culture so unique and full of rare and local treasures that become significant to those who grew up there but perhaps seem completely foreign and often tacky to outsiders. It isn’t the most glamorous town, nor does it have any particular sites or landmarks that one would go out of his / her way to visit. In The Sweetsburg Archives Sévigny is attempting to use his Quebeçois boyhood as an archetype for the relationship between the individual, the hometown, and the bewildering beauty that connects the two. As adults, we tend to romanticize our youth, we try and remember the best things about our coming of age, but we’re also scarred by certain events which we wish we could go back and change; fight back, kiss back. At a glance Sévigny’s depictions of Cowansville seem crisply utopian, a neat little playground of nice boys and girls. However, a closer look reveals their human forms are corrupt, splayed, eaten, and absorbed by animal fraternities, by swords of ritualistic death, by minute veils of the macrocosmic sky in all its unknown intricacies. The scene becomes otherworldly in the kid’s play, pushing us to remember that what is around and inside is both innocent and dirty, violent and soft, and constantly revised.
Expozine Alternative Press Award Winner for English Zine: Prologue
“An exquisitely printed zine of large-format colour drawings, huge tableaus of characters and scenes that are simultaneously cute and violent, surreal and storybook plain. You could look at each one for hours wondering what the heck they’re supposed to mean — the unicorns, the gallows, the mermaids, the guillotines, the corner dépanneur as some sort of fairy oasis. Stunning.” — Expozine Award jury
“[…] this precociously talented draftsman and visual story-teller is in very good company. Alongside his contemporaries from Araki to Clark, Sévigny is lucid and unflinching in identifying the terrible trauma that coming of age in the twenty-first century wreaks upon its subjects, mixed up with desire, tenderness, play and aggression. It’s their lucid recognition that the “totally-fucked-up”-ness (to quote Araki’s film title) of growing up on this botched planet is a central enigma and dilemma of our age. It’s queer, isn’t it?” — Thomas Waugh, from the Introduction
Montreal-based artist Jonathan Reid Sévigny (b.1986) is interested in pop culture and its intersection with queer politics, while at the same time using the specifics of his upbringing to inform certain regional references embedded in his work. Mediums such as drawing, painting, sculpture, video, performance and installation are used to create a complex web of experiential references that together create an ever-evolving meta-fiction. While attending Concordia University (BFA 2013) he attended thematic and self-directed residencies at both the School of Visual Arts in New York City (2010) and the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta (2011). Since his first solo exhibition at Envoy Enterprises in New York City (2010) Jonathan has continued to show his work in select solo and group exhibitions between Montreal and Vancouver.