Lake, Suzy

Suzy Lake, photographer, performance artist, video maker (b at Detroit, Michigan 14 June 1947). Lake studied painting, drawing and printmaking in Michigan at Wayne State and Western Michigan universities prior to immigrating to Canada in 1968. She then moved to Montréal, where in 1971 she worked as studio assistant to Guido MOLINARI. Self-taught in film, photography, performance art and video, Lake was an active member of the Montréal artistic community in the early 1970s, and in 1972 she co-founded the artist-run gallery Véhicule Art Inc. In 1977 she graduated from CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY with an MFA in multidisciplinary/photography.

From an early stage, Lake has practised a form of conceptual art that uses photography not as a transparent record of reality but as a means of communication and inquiry. Using her own performances, which are consciously staged for the camera, Lake investigates the appearance, gestures and positions of the body as a metaphor for psychological conditions. In series such as "Suzy Lake As" (1974) and "Are You Talking to Me?" (1979), her subtle manipulation of facial features or use of confrontational expressions actively engages the viewer's participation. Later photographs, such as the "Pre-Resolution" series (1984), and more recently "Too Many Stones" (1996), show the body as an active force rather than as the object of our gaze. By showing herself engaged in acts of destruction or reconstruction, the artist further dramatizes the self-transformation involved in posing for the camera.

Suzy Lake's works have been widely exhibited across Canada, including solo shows at Mount Saint Vincent University Gallery, Halifax (1997), the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (with Martha Rosler; 1996), the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (1993) and the MacDonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph (1992). Group exhibitions have included shows at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (2007), the Santa Monica Museum (2007), the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1993) and the International Centre of Photography, New York (1978). Her work is represented in many public collections including those of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montréal, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, the Musée du Quebec, Québec City and the Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo. Since 1978 she has taught at the University of Guelph, where she is now Professor in the Department of Fine Arts. In 1997 Suzy Lake was awarded the Toronto Arts award for visual art.