Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Lost and found

A heartbreaking collection of pet posters and a mysterious stockpile of uncaptioned photos asks us to re-imagine the forgotten past

  • Print

How might an archeologist reconstruct our lives from the piecemeal documentation we'll leave behind? Given only an album of uncaptioned photographs, some handwritten to-do lists, and an embarrassing cache of unanswered text messages, what "stories" and what "characters" would emerge? Would we recognize ourselves in them at all?

Most of our notes and snapshots are mnemonic devices, personal shorthand, a skeletal framework meant to be fleshed out with living memory. What do these artifacts say about us once the attending memories have faded and the all-important backstories are forgotten?

Katia Gosselin and Éric Lesage, collaborating for the first time in their joint exhibition, Entre soi et l'oubli at La Maison des artistes, share an interest in how things (words, images, objects, gestures) acquire meaning: Gosselin's recent photographs have recorded the dynamic complexity of sign language, while Lesage has spent years meticulously weaving together strips of paper cut from the pages of old dictionaries, crafting dense tapestries of garbled text. As it happens, both artists also collect the ephemera left behind by others. Over the years, Gosselin has amassed a heartbreaking library of weather-beaten "lost" and "found" pet posters, and Lesage, who previously worked as a second-hand goods dealer, has built up a collection of anonymous personal snapshots in the form of cast-off Kodachrome slides.

Entre soi et l'oubli, which translates as "Between oneself and" either "forgetting" or "oblivion," depending on your outlook, draws from both collections, joining them lightly, with minimal editing, to sketch out a subtle, melancholy (but also hopeful and even intermittently funny) investigation of memory, history, meaning, and loss.

Gosselin's posters fill one of the dimly lit gallery rooms in a floor-to-ceiling grid (likened in the accompanying text to a columbarium for storing funerary urns because these people apparently want to make me cry). The disintegrating Xeroxes overflow with detailed descriptions, last-known whereabouts, and pleas for the safe return of dozens of missing dogs, cats and birds. Apart from some whited-out contact information, though, we learn little about the writers themselves or whether their searches were successful. In the other room, transparent enlargements of Lesage's enigmatic found photos hang in the windows three layers deep, creating richly hued, ghostly montages of overlapping imagery -- newly created pictures of events that never took place, acted out by people whose names we don't know.

The collections merge on a pair of gauzy, hanging screens. At one end of the gallery, a slide projector clacks through a carousel of additional photographs -- anonymous family get-togethers and domestic scenes, landscapes and vacation pictures. From the other direction, a second, digital projector superimposes fragments of text taken from the posters--"fell from the balcony," "timid but affectionate," "we miss him very much." Cycling at different rates, the text and image pairings are incidental, but we struggle to make them "fit," with results that range from simply odd (a picture of flowers captioned, "has a distinctif [sic.] bump on her nose") to the oddly affecting.

We can only speculate at the untold stories incessantly hinted at in the exhibition, which provides a great deal to consider whether you find that prospect enticing or daunting. If the thought of a room full of missing-pet posters is itself too much to possibly "consider" because THE BABY ANIMALS ARE LOST FIND THEM THIS INSTANT (ahem), you might want to take a pass.

(Judging from one pair of "lost" and "found" posters, Bucket the cat presumably made it home safely).

Steven Leyden Cochrane is a Winnipeg-based artist, writer and educator


Katia Gosselin and Éric Lesage: Entre soi et l'oubli

La Maison des artistes visuels francophones

To April 25

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2013 C6

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up: Farmer's Carry

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google