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Marie Côté

Claims, 2016-2018

Collection of 42 drawings on paper and mining map using clay and gold collected in Dawson City

Each drawing : 7.2" x 11.4" (18 x 28.5 cm)

$4,000 CDN (Please inquire for shipping)

In 2011, ceramic artist Marie Côté embarked on a journey to Nunavik, followed by a stay in Haute-Côte-Nord in 2013-14, and culminating in her exploration of the Yukon in 2016. Each of these residencies exposed her to distinct northern landscapes and introduced her to diverse communities. They compelled her to contemplate and understand the North through her artistic practice, helping her to grasp how these remote territories could also define her identity.


Her research into the North also led her into an open and evolving human and artistic process, unfolding in three phases. Before her departure, she crafted pieces that embodied her imaginative interpretation of the respective territories. While on location, she immersed herself in the experiences of the land, its spaces, and its communities, even collecting local clay to work with. Upon her return, she translated her northern adventures and observations into artworks. These three phases became pivotal in her artistic journey, revealing the North as a source of intuition, creativity, and profound insight.


The culmination of her work before, during, and after her residency at the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture in Dawson City, resulted in the exhibition “Dawson, la géographie d’un territoire” (Dawson: The Geography of a Territory), highlighting a captivating facet of this city's identity. Dawson City stands as both an isolated urban centre within an expansive territory and a city deeply entrenched in mining history. People from all corners of the world continue to flock to Dawson, drawn by the allure of its untamed wilderness and vast, resource-rich landscapes, particularly its gold reserves.


A cursory glance at the most recent topographic and mining maps of the region reveals the extent of the territory, juxtaposed with its fragmentation into thousands of mining claims, often referred to as "claims." This dual reality is undeniably striking. Throughout history and in the present day, both the North and its gold have evoked dreams and fascination.


Every piece within this collection was crafted, in part or in whole, using clay harvested from the site of a gold mine in the nearby Bonanza Valley, close to Dawson. Sourcing clay in nature has opened up a whole range of research possibilities that adds to Côté’s artistic concerns, saying: “Whenever I hold a lump of new clay in my hands, I have the feeling of discovering a singular world that carries a memory and tells, in its materiality, a territory and a history intimately linked to that of the communities that inhabit it.” This particular clay contains traces of gold, primarily in the form of powder or flakes, intermingling with the gravels of White Channel, the most significant gold-bearing unit in the central west of the Yukon, renowned worldwide for its gold deposits. Côté utilized this unique clay to create drawings on various types of paper, in its raw state, with minimal alteration other than the addition of water. Through her artwork, she allowed the clay's distinct character to shine, offering a unique perspective on the Yukon's terrain and landscape, while offering a window into her unique artistic journey and the profound connection she forged with northern landscapes.

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