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La Nouvelle Terre

Loretta Paoli
August 15, 2013

August 15 – September 27, 2013

La Nouvelle Terre

Loretta Paoli

Opening & Reception:

Location: La Nouvelle Terre, 4550 rue Garnier, Montreal

Date: August 15, 2013

Time: 7:30 pm


Neutral Ground [Contemporary Art Forum] and Soil Digital Media Suite, Regina, Saskatchewan, launch new art space, La Nouvelle Terre at Videographe, Montreal.

Committed to its role as a forum for dialogue and the development of contemporary art, Neutral Ground and its media arts development lab, Soil, announce a new partnership with Montreal-based organization Videographe in order to create a new cultural space in the PlateauLa Nouvelle Terre. This new space will be programmed by Neutral Ground/Soil and will be dedicated to its artist members, or artists from, or with links to, Regina or Neutral Ground/Soil, in works that will be based on new forms and new genres of media in artistic creation. To launch this space, La Nouvelle Terre will host its first exhibition that features work by artist, Loretta Paoli, entitled de la Nazione (Pasquale Paoli’s Corsican Constitution, 1755).

Through this exhibition, and indeed most of Paolis work, she asks: what does understanding look like? How does communication across cultures and languages register through the senses? For over 15 years Paoli has investigated these questions through post-graduate studies in linguistics, field work with immigrant families, and English language instruction to new immigrants – now she does so through artistic explorations with optical devices, mirrors, and lenses. Focusing on the nature of translation and the transformative space between languages, this exhibition showcases the words of the Corsican constitution, and its various translations, as Paoli questions whether the constitutions words have the power to uphold the rights of people as legitimate masters of themselves. This project is to be one of many that celebrates La Nouvelle Terre as a space for discussion, translation, and intercultural communication between Regina and Montreal.

Coinciding with the opening for Loretta Paoli’s exhibition, we will be launching a new catalogue published by Neutral Ground, at RCAAQ’s Formats Bookstore, written by Associate Curator, John G. Hampton, entitled, {Person, Place, Thing}, with an introduction by art historian Mark A. Cheetham (author of Remembering Postmodernism and Kant, Art and Art History). Based on the exhibition of the same name, {Person, Place, Thing} uses the work of Loretta Paoli alongside four other contemporary Canadian artists-Bonnie Devine, Michael Maranda, Arthur Renwick and Laurel Woodcock-as a basis for a theory of the linguistic structures hidden within (or inscribed on) both environmental and societal landscapes.

Please join us in welcoming this innovative, inter-provincial arts initiative in Montreal.

Artists Statement

del la Nazione is an aesthetic reflection on a historical document, the Corsican Constitution written in 1755 by Pasquale de Paoli (my ancestor). After centuries of occupation of the mountain in the sea by a series of Mediterranean states, the document established Corsica as an independent nation from 1755 until its conquest by the French in 1769. Some historians consider the Corsican Constitution to be the first democratic constitution written.

Based in months of research into the historical context, the text itself, and its various conflicting translations from its Old Italian dialect into modern Italian, French and English, de la Nazione distills this process into a contemplation of the nature of the written word. History is filled with our attempts to shape our lives and societies through the power of language. Despite their intent, in actuality the words of the Corsican constitution did not have the power to uphold the rights of the people as legitimate masters of themselves. This history is layered against my personal connections to ancestors who immigrated to Canada, a place where constitutional questions and challenges to democracy remain very real in 2012.

(Title Note: “de la Nazione” is actually a blend of the French and Italian phrases: “de la Nation” and “della Nazione”. It was an “error”, created by accident, reflecting my process of moving between various Italian, French and English translations of the constitution text. I decided to use it as a natural title for the piece.)


Physical Description:

A small video screen (4.5 h x 7 w) is placed behind 2 glass balls (2.25 diameter) filled with water. These are placed within a black box (5.5 h x 7 w x 3 d) mounted on a small shelf within a false wall. The shelf is mounted just below eye level. Two adjacent holes (2 diameter;  apart) are cut in a small piece of  MDF measuring 12 w x 10 h. This piece of MDF in inserted into the drywall of the wall (papered/mudded/painted to appear as part of the wall). The glass balls and video are viewed through the holes in the wall, at eye level.


The video is split into 2 sides: the left contains words excerpted from the original Italian text, cropped from actual scans of the original handwritten document. These words appear in sequence, isolated within a background composed of pages of the constitution drifting slowly across the screen. On the right, a video shows my handwriting the corresponding English translations of these words in pen on paper. These appear against background footage of the Mediterranean Sea, (shot in Corsica when I was there in 2010), drifting slowly across the screen.


The Italian words appearing in the video:

Il popolo / di Corsica / patrone / legittimamente / di se medesimo / Volendo / Libert / forma / durevole / costante / suo governo / costituzione / felicit / Nazione / 1755

Corresponding English words:

the people / of Corsica / master / legitimate / of themselves / Wanting / Liberty / form / durable / constant / its government / constitution / felicity happiness / Nation / 1755

The English is excerpted from an English translation of the first 2 sentences of the constitution, as translated by Corsican scholar, Dorothy Carrington (1973): 

‘The General Diet* of the People of Corsica, legitimately Master of itself, convoked according to the form [established by] the General in the city of Corte, the I6, 17, I8 November 1755. Having reconquered its Liberty, wishing to give durable and constant form to its government, reducing it to a constitution from which the Felicity of the Nation will derive.

*(The term General Diet is understood as the equivalent of General Assembly). This was translated from the original text, written in old Italian: 

‘La Dieta generale rapresentante il popolo di Corsica, unico patrone di se medesimo legittimamente e socondo le forme de Generale convocata nella cita di Corti sotto i giorni 16, 17, 18 novembre lanno 1755. Volendo riaquistata la sua Libert, dar forma durevole, e costante al suo governo, riducendolo in costituzione tale, che da essa ne derivi la felicit della Nazione.

Artists Bio

Loretta Paoli is an artist and educator based in Regina, Saskatchewan whose work has been presented across Canada. Currently, Paolis creative practice explores the role of language and perception in experiences of migration and community. Using optical devices such as lenses and mirrors, her media-based installation works focus on the nature of translation and the transformative space between languages. This work is informed by post-graduate studies in linguistics, 15 years employed in the field of immigrant services and language instruction, and more recently, independent research into the history of her own ancestors migrations. Paolis career has also included work in commercial, public and artist-run galleries, as well as curatorial projects including the 2011 symposium Shift: dialogues of migration in contemporary art (Regina). A graduate of the University of Regina Master of Fine Arts program in Interdisciplinary Studies (Visual Art & Linguistics), Paoli also holds a Bachelor of Education (University of Western Ontario) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (University of Guelph).