Meeting the Ground

In the midst of meeting the ground I am experiencing a quiet revolution. I don’t know where I am, whether I am in the process of gradually falling to the ground, or floating away in the great stream. I don’t know if I am less afraid of death. For sure I am more alive. I sense a wider spread of tingling energy touching beyond what I can see. And that was my wish, the impetus for this investigation. I didn’t want my fear of death to stop me frombeing alive and flourishing right now. I knew running away and denial wouldn’t work; facing my fear and looking at death seemed risky. I might be overcome by the darkness. I might not be able to continue my life and be happy, if I let death get huge.

The revolution turns me from my old choice of isolation and self-sufficiency towards an unfolding of myself. Throughout my years of art making I worked alone, defending my creative privacy with a life, or death urgency. Alone, I could try anything. For the previous years of this project, I filmed myself falling anywhere I could find soft and private ground. I continue to do this.

Meeting the Ground now involves collaboration in several directions. Five of us have been constructing a movement piece to embody the physicality of the investigation. People who came to help with filming became part of the films. Ideas and approaches are no longer only mine. Word thoughts are swept away by a stream, which now has a star role. The setting and the action have become bigger than myself, or what I had imagined.

– Renée Poisson, 2016


I first met with Renée for a studio visit in the spring of 2014. Through the conversations that followed over the past two years, an exhibition has emerged. Her multifaceted arts-based research has expanded and continues to evolve. Informed by the dialogue between artist, curator, performance participants and contributors, the work has gained momentum and refinement in relation to the gallery space and possibilities that flow from presentation.

Meeting the Ground is Renée Poisson’s interdisciplinary project taking place in CVAG’s contemporary spaces and on the street front plaza. The project is comprised of sculptural elements, printed matter, video projection, collaborative performances and a creative residency. Renée’s research is immersive, with an emphasis on dissolving identity through her ongoing experience of walking towards death, as an ordinary aging person. She uses the repeated practice of deliberate, uncontrolled falling, and video documentation to record and examining the movements.

Meeting the Ground makes space for contemplations on death and impermanence. Aware that there is no escape, the artist inhabits and explores “this body country, a territory of possibilities, unknowns and unavoidable intensities.”

Facing her fear of death, the artist considers the resistance and release of the body in relation to falling onto and into soft ground. Experiencing fear in the body, Renée investigates its rapport with fear in mind. Renée describes her practice of intentional falling as “a way to approach figuratively that instance between life and death. Finding the body in the fall, is to find life in the preparation for death.”

– Angela Somerset, curator for the Comox Valley Art Gallery


Meeting the Ground is the second curatorial project in a three-part exhibition series entitled In this body: journeys in places of meeting, preceded by Farheen Haq’s exhibition Being Home.

In this body invites conversation about the myriad of ways in which the artists encounter and deal with interpersonal dynamics, history, culture, behaviors, architecture, landscape and politics, and how these influences inform our changing sense of self. The artists and their collaborators share affinities for creating and activating occurrences of ‘being in this body,’ as they confront and negotiate complex experiential terrain residing at the intersection of art and the everyday.

The Comox Valley Art Gallery values the opportunity to support new site-responsive, collaborative and interactive projects by contemporary artists engaged in taking risks, extending their practice into new territory.


Renée Poisson has been practicing art for more than five decades. Turning away from institutional education, Renée has studied and learned directly from visual artists, writers, dancers, musicians and craftspeople. Her prolific practice is rooted in independent and collaborative projects involving sculpture, performance, drawing, video and soundscapes.
Adjunct Workshops with Margo McLoughlin:

January 31Meeting the Ground of Life and Death Workshop, For adults, 1–4pm
February 1Storytelling and Mindfulness Workshops, For children + youth, 11am–12pm and 1–2pm
February 28Dancing with the Messengers Workshop, For adults, 10am–4pm
February 29Storytelling and Mindfulness Workshops, For children + youth, 11am–12pm and 1–2pm


Renée Poisson gratefully acknowledges the support of:

Creative Collaborators/Performers: Susan Cook, Ann Marie Lisch, Nicole Crouch, Trudy Beaton
Community Performers: Kaya Kehl, Denise Lawson, Shelly Hollingshead, Susan Youds, Quinn
Choreographic Consutation: Holly Bright
Photographer: Alun Macanulty
Technical Consultant: Carrie Tannant
The CVAG staff team along with the volunteers assisting with the project: Kevin, Tom, Iris, Alun, Quinn, Jenette, Becci, Don, Dianne