Suzy Lake (2000-01-28)

Suzy Lake
Practice: Photography, Installation, and Performance
Date of Lecture: 2000-01-28


For Lake and her politicized peers, the effort to break down art’s separation from everyday life required the use of representation against itself, the abandonment of style as a form of individual copyright, and its replacement by rhetorical strategies grounded in combinations of performance, photography, video and verbal language.” – Ingrid Jenkner.

Suzy Lake is a conceptual artist who lives and makes work in Toronto. She was among the first female artists to adopt performance, video and photographic work to explore the politics of gender, the body and identity. Since the very beginning of her career her work has focused on themes that have since become the core of feminist art-practice. Lake’s earliest work, produced in the sixties and seventies, already employs devices such as the invention of personas, performance as self-portraiture and the inversion of the role of the spectator. These are the works that directly inspired the making of Lake’s contemporaries such as Cindy Sherman, Lisa Steele and Barbara Kruger.

Lake_Suzy_w01Pre-resolution: Using the Ordinances at Hand #7, 1984

Lake was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1947. She began her studies at Wayne State University and became active in the civil-rights and anti-war movements while she was a student there. She left Detroit and settled in Montreal after witnessing the race riots of 1968. Once there, she studied at Concordia, receiving her M.F.A in 1978. She has been teaching at the University of Guelph since 1988, where she is a professor of Fine Art. Lake has received numerous grants from the Arts Councils throughout the years and in 1993 she was the subject of a major career retrospective organized by the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. Throughout her career she has remained active in the community of co-operative galleries and artist-run centers.

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