Garth Amundson & Pierre Gour

Garth Amundson & Pierre Gour have lived and worked together for over thirty years. Their projects incorporate found and archival imagery, physical and digital manipulation, collage, installation, and their own photographs. They have participated in dozens of residencies across the globe. Their work has been exhibited internationally, and has been recognized with awards including a Santa Fe Art Institute Residency (2016), Rockefeller Foundation Award, Bellagio, Italy (2014), Fundación Valparaíso Residency Award, Mojácar, Spain (2013), Artist Trust Grant (2011).  Amundson received his MFA from Syracuse University and Gour from The University of New Mexico.  Both are faculty in the Department of Art at Western Washington University.

Amundson & Gour met at the Banff Center of Fine Arts Residency in 1985, they have collaborated as a team in various degrees for the last thirty-four years. Some bodies of work are literal collaborations, conceived, developed, and actualized side-by-side. At other times, they serve one another in a support role: one-person sewing panels together, applying photographic emulsion, or realizing the design and installation of the work. In either context, they are truly a collaborative team of artists who insist on continuing to produce work that is stimulating and provocative.

Their work explores the perceptions and politics surrounding immigration, home, domestic motifs, and identity. Using the technique of collage/montage, photo scanning, and craft to speak metaphorically about social and cultural construction, their installations invite the viewer to think about one’s own position in relation to the broader community by psychologically projecting themselves into the images. In each project they seek to explore and dissect identity using their own experience as a point of departure. For example, during Garth’s eight-month Fulbright in Mexico in 2007, their own sense of home was put into question. After being forcibly separated at the U.S. / Canada border, and after twenty-two years as a couple, they were faced with the prospect not having a home together. Underlying all of their work, are these recent experiences with immigration laws, which have threatened their sense of home. Although legally married in Canada, the US Federal Defense of Marriage Act barred same-sex couples from all federal benefits conferred by marriage, including the right to sponsor an immigrant spouse for permanent residence. Same sex bi-national couples were often forced to separate because the U.S. government viewed them as strangers under the law.

Penetrating Cuts, installation view at the UT Arlington Art Gallery, altered pigment prints, 44” x 144.”   Description: Using the historical archive as a point of departure, this exploration was spearheaded by our collaborative investigation into the historic application and use of vintage photographs. Over the last five years we have been working side-by-side on topics ranging from domestic motifs to immigration and identity politics. For this work, we have created large-scale prints using hundreds of vintage photographs found in thrift stores and antique shops as well as personal snapshots that we have been collecting for the past 24 years. These photographs metaphorically become historical evidence of our own lost identity. Social historian Judith Gutman expressed that ‘photographs may be our most perfect cultural artifact.’ We are interested in this notion of artifact / evidence not as a means of looking at the past but an expression of the present day.
HEAD(S), installation view at the Catherine Edelman Gallery, altered pigment prints mounted on bank pins, dimensions vary.   Description: This installation is a by-product of both Cut-It-Out and Penetrating Cuts, which are scanned images of thousands of photographs and snapshots, both vintage and contemporary. In this project, we have selected to use the cut-out male faces to mount with two-inch bank pins directly into the wall. The display references the historic use photographs for scientific categorization and identification. In this context, we are reflecting on our own social construction and the fluidity of masculinity and how it is presented through portraiture.
Pátzcuaro Casita, prototype, sewn images, 53” Description: Pátzcuaro Casita is based in ideas of our own personal sense of place, separation, and dislocation. This work represents both metaphorically and literally hanging together by a thread. The physical object is a circular configuration, made up of a calendar of sewn together photographs taken over a course of four months from six windows in a small house in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico.
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