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Catherine Hois: Disruptive Body

March 14, 2023 - May 28, 2023

Second Floor

How are our anxieties inscribed into our flesh? In what ways do our bodies reflect our lived experience? Drawing on her own relationship with her body, Catherine Hois’ sculptural and video works address these questions by reflecting on her struggles with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, and her ongoing healing process.

Pageant of the Vulnerable (2022) is a large-scale installation made of small sculptures, based on various parts of Hois’ body—including her arms, legs, and chest. Each filled with recyclable material, these soft, bodily sculptures loom over the viewer in protest against the normalization of extreme body management. Flesh-like in both texture and hue, this work is a self-portrait of Hois as she journeys through her own recovery.

Playing on a TV screen in the adjacent living room set is the stop motion film Heart House (2022). In the film, the main character Isabelle feeds the muck, a fleshy creature that grows with each feed, and which eventually takes over the whole house. An embodiment of Isabelle’s body insecurities and self-rejection, the muck expands at times and retreats at other times, but never truly goes away. Ultimately, Isabelle must learn to co-exist with it, even to domesticate it.

The immersive living room setup, modeled on Hois’ own childhood home, is crucial to the experience of viewing Heart House. In recreating the intimacy of the family home, Hois reflects on its duality as both a safe space and a place where horrors often go unnoticed.

Disruptive Body is an exploration of the human body as a site where anxieties play out; and where power is contested and negotiated. It is the story of a body that has learned to reject itself, and what it takes to reconcile with those parts of ourselves that we have come to fear or loathe.

This exhibition forms part of Below the 6, a series of exhibitions that focuses on artists based in Southwestern Ontario whose practices are socially and politically minded.

Below the 6 is curated by TD Fellow Muriel N. Kahwagi and is generously supported by TD Bank Group.


About the Artist: Catherine Hois

Working across painting, sculpture, and video, Catherine Hois’ multimodal practice takes the human body as a starting point, revealing the hidden strains and anxieties that are housed within it. Born in Schomberg, Ontario and currently based in Windsor, Hois graduated from the University of York with an MFA. Disruptive Body is her first solo show.

About the Curator: Muriel N. Kahwagi

Muriel N. Kahwagi works across writing, research, and programming. She has held editorial roles at both the Sursock Museum (2015-2021) and the Arab Image Foundation (2021-2022) in Beirut, and since 2022 has been a programmer at the Toronto Arab Film Festival. Her first edited volume, Al Qasid: The real and imagined histories of sung poetry, brings together contributions from scholars, artists, and composers, exploring the politics of archiving sung poetry, and the mediation and transmission of memories and folkloric traditions. This publication, released in November 2022, was supported by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and Hammana Artist House.

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