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Marline Charbonneau | Perpetuating Archives Through Emotions


While reflecting on the notion of memory, visual artist Marline Charbonneau uses archives to provoke emotions in order to link the past to the present. She agreed to answer our questions and share her work.

Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?

I am Marline Charbonneau from Quebec (Canada) and I am a visual artist. I did my Visual Arts studies at university in Quebec City and a master’s degree in Arts Research in Aix-Marseille, France. Ever since I was a child, I always knew that I had an artist’s sensitivity as I would spend days exploring my creative nature by drawing.

The subject that has taken the biggest part in my artistic approach for over thirty years (already!) is Time. My source of inspiration is history. The great history, that of humanity, but also and above all, the small history, that of the family tree, of people in general and, in particular, family life. The inclusion, for the last ten years, of the human figure in my work induces a kind of poetry of time.

Can you explain what your art is about?

My work revolves around the temporality and the emotional potential of an archive. It is an approach directed towards the aspect of memory that the archive revives: its double vocation of archive-document and of archive-testimony of time, its memorial and emotional inscription in time and history. This research approach based upon archives questions the issues related to memory and offers a reflection on death and survival.

The staging of archives in my practice emphasizes their poetry, their attractive old-fashioned charm, their material characteristics, their imperfections, the traces of the passage of time, everything that contributes to producing a meaningful effect. These properties interact with each other and increase the evocative power of archives. The archive-document as an object is a bearer of meanings. Its staging stimulates, on the emotional level, an “emotional charge” with a strong evocative focus.

Through the manipulation of the historical archive-document, the photographic archive, the archive-object, I seek to establish emotional, sensory and intellectual links with and between the spectators. To bring to the forefront the evocative faculty of archives, their capacity to move, to recall forgotten things, to make them present to the mind in the present moment.



You use several techniques such as silkscreen. Can you tell us what attracted you to this technique?

I discovered my passion for silkscreen at the School of Visual Arts at Laval University. It has become my preferred medium. This technique allows the accumulation and superimposition of images. Also, photography, collage, drawing, paper making and digital photo editing are frequently combined in the elaboration of the silkscreen work.

What is your main goal when working on a collection and what reaction do you seek to provoke in the public?

My artistisc intention is to encourage the resilience of archives, to allow their perpetuation through the emotion felts by the viewer. The “reactivation” of archives through artistic creation manages to no longer perceive the past as disappeared, but as still being contemporary.

I wish to create an unusual vision of the cycle of life. Archives would not be a trace of “what was,” but rather a present, living element, something that remains, a dialectic reversal.


Is there a piece or a collection that you have particularly enjoyed working on, that has particularly touched or inspired you?

One of tmy recent projects is the creation of an artist’s book as an art object, a long project spread over several years that required much rigor and meticulousness. It resulted in twenty-two numbered copies, entirely hand-bound, each delivered in its own box. It contributes to the documentation and the diffusion of my work.

This artist’s book is the catalog of the exhibition “Souvenirs fictionnels,” a body of work exhibited at the Salle l’Alternative in Baie-Comeau in 2016. The works in the exhibition are reproduced and commented on in a collection of images, formed as an exhibition catalog. Most of the comments in the catalog come from my master’s thesis.

You can see some of the steps in the making of this book on my YouTube channel:

Do you have a project in the works right now that you can share with us?

I am currently planning a small book project in limited edition (about 25 copies), entirely silkscreen printed and hand-bound, which theme will be the family archive. Each book will be unique since it will be based upon archives provided by people in the community, from the North Shore region of Quebec or elsewhere.

Where can we find your work?

I am not currently exhibiting, but you can see my work online through my social networks:

My website:

My YouTube channel:

My professional Facebook page:

Finally, what can we wish for you in the future?

I hope to make my work known to as many people as possible and, through your magazine, to increase the number of visitors on my social networks!

We thank Marline for her time and her fascinating answers, and we invite you, dear readers, to visit her social networks to explore her work more deeply.

Any use or reproduction is strictly prohibited, it is strictly prohibited without the written permission of Marline Charbonneau, to use, reproduce, copy, in whole or in part, in any form whatsoever, the texts and images of this site protected by copyright law.

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