THE HUNTRESS' LAIR / LE DOMAINE DE LA CHASSERESSE

La Minerve, Upper Laurentians, Québec, autumn 1994. Residency, À L’AFFÛT, produced by Boréal ArtNature.

In an oval clearing on a hilltop overseeing the trails 16 m x 10m. Upturned tree stump with protruding roots, poles, deer bones, netting, lace, wool, meat hooks, meat bags, rope. For this collective project that looks at the phenomenon of hunting in the Upper Laurentians, I decided to interview women who hunt - the contemporary Artemis and Diana - Les chasseresses. Inspired by my conversations with several of these women (extracts of these conversation are below – Interviews with Artemis) I decided to construct what I imagined could be a place in the woods where a huntress prepares for the hunt, and where she returns after the kill - Le Domaine de la Chasseresse.

INTERVIEWS WITH ARTEMIS

"In the conversation of death is the striving for a death that is appropriate."

Barry Lopez, "The Moment of Encounter", Parabola, May 1991.


The Greek goddess Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana, was the Lady of Wild Things. As goddess of the hunt and goddess of the moon, she was an archer of unerring aim, roaming her wilderness by moonlight. She was also a fierce protectress of those who appealed to her for help, and quick to punish those who offended her. Here, in the Laurentians, I met with the modern Artemis and Diana. I was inspired by my conversations with these huntresses to create Le Domaine de la Chasseresse - the place where a woman prepares for the hunt, and where she returns after the kill.


Isabelle: I have patience. I can be in the bush for hours and days on end. Waiting. Alert. And my weapon, my bow, I'm really familiar with it. Physically and mentally I prepare myself. When I spotted that doe and aimed to kill, I was relaxed. Lucid. One arrow, and she was dead. The men hunters said, “…ah, it was just a female deer.” I told them I didn't need to put a trophy on the wall. I was putting meat on the table for my family...In the bush a huntress is not stressed like many hunters: a woman doesn't have the instinct to kill, nor does she need to prove her “femaleness” by hunting. So ultimately it's not so important for her to return from the hunt with a kill, unless she really needs the meat to survive.


Denise: My father, a hunter and trapper, had been taking me with him in the bush ever since I was young. One time we went moose hunting. Not too long after he'd left me at my spot, I saw a moose approaching through the trees. I shot him, but he didn't fall right away, so I ran after him and shot again and again. Finally, he fell. I don't remember how many times I pulled that trigger. All I could think of is that my father would be proud of me... You know, there's not a man on earth that could give me the rush that killing that moose did.


Suzanne: A couple of guys, friends of mine, invited me along on a hunting expedition. I didn't have a hunting permit or a rifle. So they passed me a gun to kill partridge or other small game for supper. I love that kind of life in the bush. But you know, I hated these guys by the time we got out of there. Besides hunting, all they did was talk about women in the most degrading and humiliating manner. For some men there's this perverse connection between hunting and sex, maybe the same as that between war and rape.


Michelle: My grandmother hunted, my mother hunted, and I hunt. This infuriates some men because it contradicts their image of me as mother and healer...Yes, I think a woman's approach to the hunt is different from a man's. She is guided by her closeness to the birthing cycle, so she meets the other end of the same cycle, the taking of a life, in another way than a man... I would much rather kill a deer or moose in the forest than kill a cow in a slaughterhouse.

Published inÀ l’affût” , by Boréal ArtNature, 1994