Chloë Lalonde (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist/maker/writer/educator/person born in Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyang / Montreal, raised in so-called Laval / île jesus / “jardin de montréal,” and currently based in Vienna, Austria. Working circularly, Chloë experiments with materials, language and sensory perception to create a practice that can degrade between the irl/afk and the digital worlds.
In a refusal to use plastic paint and non-biodegradable materials, and stemming from a research paper I wrote on the material culture of paint and another on [sub]urbanisation of so-called Laval / île jesus / “jardin de montréal,” I have been experimenting with making my own pigments and watercolours, out of my own food waste and, two summers ago, plants that grew in my parents’ backyard.
I began to work with the intention of weaving my own surfaces - like canvases, and continuing my experiments with food waste pigments, including dried orange peels, avocado pits and cabbage, which I ground into a powder. Once the pigment was made, my idea was to print the sheets of paper, perhaps on my handwoven canvases, and reuse the paper once it is printed. This practice has taken me a lot of time, so with community, interactivity and performativity in mind, this workshop was an open invitation to the public to participate in this creation with me. Together we learned by doing, playing with and deconstructing material that surrounds us everyday.
The photographs above are from a research-creation workshop I facilitated in September 2021, after my grandfather passed. It was part of Verticale’s series of participatory artist-led workshops under the name Le Club, mine, respectively, Le Club Plastique (figure 2) - comical, given the nature of my practice. But in French art communities, the term “plastique” is parallel to the English word “craft,” not “plastic.” There, I invited the public to weave, to make pigments and explore this practice with me. At first, mostly my family was present. The opportunity allowed us to mourn and to celebrate together, then later in the day, a group of young baseball players swarmed the table and really activated the pigment-making space.
Here, I am experimenting with materials, things that were given to me and things that I made myself, having created a solid library of material alternatives that are zero waste, biodegradable and low-cost. Though meanwhile, after balancing time to practice and work recently proved quite difficult, and having moved to Austria for my master’s, I realised just how central the land I grew up on is to my practice.