Suzy Lake, Beauty at a Proper Distance / In Song, 2001–2002

Suzy Lake Beauty at a Proper Distance / In Song 2001–2002 colour transparencies (3) 140 x 122 cm, each Collection of the Artist, Courtesy of Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto © 2014 Suzy Lake

Introducing Suzy Lake

November 5, 2014 – March 22, 2015


Suzy Lake has been examining and critiquing ideals of the body, gender and identity since the late 1960s. In her photographs, videos and performances, Lake draws attention to social norms and constraints and aims to diminish the barrier between the viewer and the artwork.

Introducing Suzy Lake follows the artist in images across five decades, as her political ideals are forged in Detroit's civil rights movement in the late 1960s; as she realizes her first successes in Montreal's artist-led cultural boom of the 1970s, the post–Expo 67, post-Duplessis era; and her years in Toronto since 1978, as she finds her home and hones her artistic vision.

Co-curated by Georgiana Uhlyarik, associate curator of Canadian art and Sophie Hackett, associate curator of photography, the exhibition includes several works from the AGO's collection as well as numerous loans. The exhibition features two new important works from Lake's Extended Breathing series (2008–2014) and premieres two works from a brand new series, Performing Haute Couture (2014), created specifically for this exhibition. It also includes a recreation Are You Talking to Me? (1979), an installation of more than 70 photographs made shortly after Lake's arrival in Toronto that has not been seen in its entirety since the early 1980s.

A companion catalogue, published by Black Dog Publishing (U.K.), will feature texts by artists, curators and scholars, including Allyson Mitchell, Robert Longo, Elizabeth Smith, Michelle Jacques and Sara Angel, with a foreword by Tavi Gevinson, founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie magazine. Also entitled Introducing Suzy Lake, the catalogue will be available for purchase at shopAGO in November. 

Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

This exhibition is included with general admission.


Generously supported by

Supported by

Publication produced with support of the Sorel Etrog Publication Fund, with assistance from the D.H. Gales Foundation


For more than 45 years and across three cities, Suzy Lake has used her own image to confront issues of identity and power. Informed by the culture and politics of Detroit, Montreal and Toronto, Lake has produced groundbreaking photographs, videos and performances. In these videos, Lake discusses how the unique characters of these cities influenced her body of work.

Born in Detroit (1947–1968)

A New Scene in Montreal (1968–1978)

Home in Toronto (1978–Today)

The Making of Performing Haute Couture

Installation of Are You Talking To Me?


Meet the Artist: Suzy Lake

Listen to artist Suzy Lake discuss her work and exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in conversation with exhibition curators Sophie Hackett and Georgiana Uhlyarik. Recorded on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. Duration: 00:54:21

Suzy Lake, Sophie Hackett and Georgina Uhlyarik – Meet the Artist
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