Artist and nurse Yannick De Serre is a unique figure in the Quebec art world. His art experience is always colored by the events of his daily life, sometimes tragically. In Tolerance and other treatments, in the exhibition presented at the OBORO art center until December 10, the artist invokes the concepts of presence and absence, life and death. “In my practice as a nurse, we come into contact with death on a regular basis and are not necessarily equipped to handle our many traumas. His works are presented as a continuation of the bereavement that caregivers have to face.
To evacuate and recover
De Serre approaches her approach as a place of healing. It stems from a vital need to take time out and find oneself. “In the emergency room, we are in acute condition, we are worried. This is a work environment where time is scarce and non-existent. Being able to take a minute to sit down and give yourself space to create a ritual is really important. »
This time is embodied in the focus on his artistic projects, in addition to the time he devotes to the sensitively imbued exchanges he tries to reproduce with his patients. In various ways, he tries to fulfill all the sorrows that accompany him and calm him down. “To me, resilience is the ability to move on without all the traces of these traumas. De Serre is sensitive to, but not immune to, the painful experiences of human loss. With his own experience, he tries to “say in true and correct words” the emotional transitions that these trials have caused, and ” [les] sign up, [les] communication[’en] leave footprints.
“After the first death I had to face, I was looking for a ritual object; then I came across a towel that I bought and placed next to my workshop table. Over time I used it to wipe my surface, my carving boards, my hands, my ink stains. Little by little, Yannick De Serre develops an intimate relationship with the dead he rubs shoulders with. Each death is marked by a new selection of towels, new works in the making of each towel. “This is a witness, a rather powerful workshop artifact. »
Expose the ritual
At OBORO, she presents many shrouds of these iconic pieces. “This project gets its meaning without gathering. Its mid-career introduction is important: it confirms that the ritual works and offers healing over time. If each of these towels is a certain death, De Serre lists them from time to time. At the end of each year, he takes a large sheet of Japanese paper where he collects them and folds them according to the prescribed gestures, then seals the whole thing and label before marking it with the previous ones.
This ongoing project – “until retirement” – is a testament to his past 17 years of work in the emergency room. Precisely, the series of gestures she performs creates that moving ritual aspect that we recognize in the artist-nurse. He demonstrates his meticulous research around the effects. In the exhibition room, a series of shrouds rests behind an altar displaying sewn fabrics and tools of artistic and medical work. Prints showing fatal bouquets forming a final tribute.
Combine two lives
The coexistence of De Serre’s two works offers her a range of materials, tools, themes and techniques that intersect with the art world and the hospital environment. “For me, it becomes my workshop tools. Exacto is a scalpel, I cut my paper with surgical scissors, the dry point I use for my engravings is a medical needle. That is the strength of De Serre’s work. Expressing the motives of a demanding and attractive profession through art, the artist creates a harmony between intensive therapy and workshop, which culminates in the hoped-for cure.
“My work lies between these dualities rough and soft. Among other things, this is reflected in the stitches I put forward to write words that connect and reinforce the purpose of my works. This is my way of playing with the concept of a scar, talking about a mark and a mark. His artistic work is minimalistic, preferring aesthetic and material restraint to speak about powerful and difficult subjects. Starting with the idea that we can decipher much with little, De Serre offers important clues to the message of the work in every detail. In short, he creates sensitive and subtle projects that balance the testing weight of the daily dramas experienced in the hospital.