“Mise en Scène” Annette Lemieux

“Mise en Scène” Annette Lemieux


Written by Aditi Peyush

Annette Lemieux’s new exhibition, “Mise en Scène” at the Museum of Fine Arts, is art for the nostalgic. By incorporating films and literature from her childhood, Lemieux creates an environment that draws those who are fond of reminiscent art.  

Born in 1957, Annette Lemieux is an American artist who received her B.A. in fine arts at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. The political climate she experienced as a child by living through the Cold War inspires her art. During this early point in her life, censorship and nationality were major themes which explains the prevalence of these themes in her art. For instance, Lemieux uses stills from the movie “The Great Dictator”  in her piece “Censor (A-E)” to show the contrast between what the viewer sees and what Lemieux intends to portray. The hazy sepia film contrast with her precise use of bold black lines. Censorship is a key motif of this exhibit, as every piece relays Lemieux’s perspective of living through the Cold War. The theme of America in the 1980’s is ubiquitous throughout her art as she strives to blur the line between art and life.

Lemieux has stated in her novel, “The Strange Life of Objects,” that she prefers that her exhibitions look like a group-artist collaboration rather than a single-artist show as her signature style. This is visible as you walk through the room dedicated to her art, with a mix of three-dimensional pieces as well as two-dimensional pieces. She allows introspection and minimalism to convey her reimagination of films from a charged social perspective, speaking through bold lines, film photography, and vivid colors.

Concealed on the second floor of the MFA, her art induces self-introspection as the viewer seeks to understand her own perspective. “Mise en Scène” directly translated is the arrangement of scenery and props on a stage which is apparent by walking through the gallery. In “Spin” pictured below, she includes the same shot of Scout from the film “To Kill A Mockingbird” in green, yellow, and red; reminiscent of a stoplight. The description of the piece states that this scene “..might be seen as a metaphor for how to confront one’s assumptions and fears of difference.” The white and black stripes on the velvet drape are meant to portray the whitewashing of history. “Spin” sheds new light on this American classic novel, as the viewer begins to see the significance of “To Kill a Mockingbird” to Lemieux as a homage to her national identity.

By using subliminal artistic elements that the viewer must actively look for, interpreting her art is like a puzzle. For instance, “Firecone” is the most striking piece due to the bright blue light being emitted from it; the sculpture is a replica of a device used in François Truffaut’s 1966 film adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451” that is used by security personnel to secure the perimeter. The blue light atop the red and white stripes are used to represent security and censorship in a nationalist state.  

As a new exhibit, it drew attention from the public; when interviewed, Hunter Burke a patron of MFA said “it’s a commentary on social interaction, we filter our understanding and our experiences through narratives that are propagated by the media.” Stop by “Mise en Scène” to fall into a trance of introspection and nostalgia. Whether drawn to the striking colors or the historical context, Lemieux’s art is sure to be enjoyed by people of all interests.

The exhibit is on display at the MFA in Gallery 259 until March 4th.


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