Maude Arsenault’s winning body of work represents a shift in perspective and personal responsibilities within her practice. The images in Entangled 1 & 2 challenge and encourage viewers to question the representation of bodies, genders and specifically modes of femininity. Due to the pandemic and the many changes faced this year, we were unable to welcome Maude Arsenault to Kyoto for the production of her collotype prints. Although travel restrictions made this difficult to organise, we feel very fortunate to still have been able to continue the making of her works remotely and in close communication throughout the process. Despite the changes this year, the opportunity for the studio to collaborate with Arsenault offered us the chance to engage with new themes and visual narratives and to form new relationships in both our work and personal lives which we feel truly grateful for. The pandemic has changed and challenged us as a society in many ways. Looking inwards, at our roles within both our intimate and wider spaces is an experience which many of us can reflect and connect to whilst encountering the works within Entangled 1 & 2. We feel very honoured to have Maude Arsenault as this year’s Grand Prize Winner and we look forward to welcoming her in Kyoto in future.
– Takumi Suzuki CEO of Benrido, Inc.
Entangled is a photo series from my first photobook published with Deadbeatclub Press that encapsulates a pivotal moment for my work, representing a shift in perspective in personal responsibility. After years dedicated to creating glorified images of women, through a twenty year fashion photography career, I came to question my role and influence in the transmission of models of femininity. Albeit informed by a progressive, non-binary upbringing, this introspection became ultimately necessary, in the context of motherhood as I am raising three children including a teenage girl. Entangled, invokes the French word carcan, meaning “ploy” or “ambush,”or “ideological trap”, to explain the underlying motivation for making the spare and evocative pictures in this series. I mean that becoming an adult, a female photographer and a parent has given me distance and perspective on the cultural demands made on the bodies and societal roles of women, and particularly on life choices which have been constricted or even foreordained. I call this work series “a poem, an ode, a shout out,” and one can sense that the quiet power of the series lies in the contradictions still unresolved even as I gain in experience and independence as an older women. I feel often trapped in the person I have been trying to be my entire life but now, at 47 and back to grad school and critical thinking, my perspective over female representation and patriarchy is clearer and I try to offer an optimistic female gaze that bring wider representation of girls and woman’s worlds.
Maude Arsenault is a photographer and artist in addition to being the mother of three children. After years spent living in Sydney, Paris and NYC as a fashion photographer she is now currently living in her hometown of Montreal, Canada. Over the last few years she has completed studies in art history and she is now pursuing an MFA in visual arts at Université du Quebec in Montreal. In March 2019, she was selected to attend Chico Review, in Montana where she met Clint Woodside (DeadBeatClub Press), who published in 2020 her first monograph, Entangled. Maude’s photography work invests the themes of construction of female identity, private spaces, domesticity and intimacy through a documentary, collage and portraiture approach. Maude reflects on the current social condition of female identity, a state that compels us to question the foundations to which young women today refer in the way they form and shape. As an artist and a mother, and the way social structures and history are imposing on us certain schemas and blameworthiness, Maude questions how the traditional patriarchy models implies on girls and women, ideals that still today in 2020, can results in disappointment, lack of confidence and mental health issues. Maude works in digital, analog and in polaroid both in colour and black and white.