“Never silent again”: a face is worth a thousand words

Participate in the emancipation of voices, mute or repressed, of women who are victims of oppression based on their gender. This is what the documentary film does Never silent again of the graduating student in the master’s degree in visual and media arts Caroline Pierret Pirson, whom she presents at the Galerie de l’UQAM until October 22.

In this sparse film, all in sobriety, 19 Montreal women aged 26 to 74, from 10 countries, testify to the violence they have suffered, within their family, their couple or at work.

For 70 minutes, Caroline challenges the public to listen to them, without interruption, to give them her full attention.

“For me, the problem of society and violence is the lack of listening. That’s what my work is about,” explains Caroline in an interview, seated at the Pista café in La Petite-Patrie, where she lives.

On the screen follow one another on a black background the close-up faces of these women who reveal themselves. Caroline made sure that no visual or sound embellishment disturbed their story, in order to promote a total state of listening. To let go of the emotions.

Emotions that are expressed not only by words, but also by faces, moist eyes, a quavering voice. So many subtleties that reveal intimate parts of the other.

Caroline Pierret Pirson at the opening of her exhibition Never silent again last Thursday at the Galerie de l’UQAM. Photo: Marie-Helene Tremblay

What is said is extremely important, but so is the intonation, the moment of hesitation, the moment of pause. It also creates emotion. This is what makes us also enter into the subtle understanding of the other.

Caroline Pierret Pirson, multidisciplinary artist

What have you always been prevented from saying?

Without a break, the film is divided into four chapters, made up of questions that Caroline asked the participants: where are you from? What have you always been prevented from saying because you are a woman? What did the #metoo moment do to you? And, finally, what do you want to confide in or advise your best friend, your sister, your cousin, women?

These outpourings came from friends, but also from women she did not know, who responded to her call to all on social networks. It was in her kitchen, in front of an ebony velvet sheet, that she captured their testimonies, their black outfits emphasizing their faces, and all the emotions that run through them.

“My quest is the whisper of being. It’s not so much what people say that fascinates me as what people are. Interiority touches me”, confides the designer who likes to “capture the soul through the face”.

One day, during a party, she suggested that the guests sit alone in a car containing a microphone and share their thoughts as if they were walking alone, in the metro for example. “And what I heard was so incredible that it started all the work that followed. I knew I wanted to work with the voice, with the story. »

  • Never again silent by Caroline Pierret Pirson
  • The documentary film Never More Silent by Caroline Pierret Pirson brings together the testimony of 19 Montrealers aged 26 to 74, from 10 countries, who testify to the oppression they have suffered.  Image taken from the video.
  • The documentary film Never More Silent by Caroline Pierret Pirson brings together the testimony of 19 Montrealers aged 26 to 74, from 10 countries, who testify to the oppression they have suffered.  Image taken from the video.

Demanding listening exercise

At the Galerie de l’UQAM, the chairs arranged in a semi-circle in front of the monitor showing the video “create a kind of talking circle, as if the person were telling us their story”, describes Caroline. On the opposite wall is projected a mosaic of women’s faces, on the same sleek black background, looking at the women in front of them. “There are women who speak and those who listen,” she explains.

I know it’s an experimental format that is scary. The audience must have a real desire to listen. It’s demanding, it’s work. But I think it can bring something to those who will listen to it.

Caroline Pierret Pirson, multidisciplinary artist

Another section, titled Over to you word!, is grafted onto its exposure. Until November 8, the artist invites the public to call 514 272-6423 and leave a voice message answering a single question: what have you always been forced to keep quiet?

From these speeches, Caroline wishes to create an audio installation that would accompany Never silent again.

She now dreams that her film travels to film festivals. And that on a more local scale, houses of culture disseminate it so that mediation, discussions… and listening flow from it.

Choose your vocation

In 2019, Caroline Pierret Pirson left her job to pursue her artistic vocation, beginning a master’s degree at UQAM. This return to university has been difficult on many levels, she agrees. “You impoverish yourself, it’s terrible when you go into the arts. I have no security”, admits the holder of a master’s degree in photography at La Cambre in Brussels, obtained in 1998, who has produced many installations in the past and taken part in a host of exhibitions, in Belgium, in Quebec and in the United States.

When she settled in Quebec, nearly 20 years ago, she abandoned creation. However, these years of “putting people in touch” as coordinator of cultural projects, “it titillated my desire to resume creation by myself and to enter into research”, she relates, underlining how these years had shaped his listening. So she set off, and Never silent againhis first solo exhibition in Quebec, “is the culmination of a long intimate, migratory and collective journey”.

Never silent again
Until October 22
The UQAM Gallery
1400 Berri Street
Judith-Jasmin Pavilion, room J-R120

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