Migration of Rhinoceros
   
This project had multiple inspirations: the strangeness of the creature had fascinated me since I saw an exhibition of paintings by a certain Mr. Pitre, where the rhinoceros was presented as a train entering and leaving a tunnel. Subsequently, my partner gave me a toy rhino that I photographed for the ending of a film that I wanted to digitize.  My first experimentation with the rhinoceros was virtually placing it in my forest.

Model
   
In the spring of 1998 I was working with wire mesh caging for La Rivière du Temps (the River of Time). Following a call from an artists' centre, I got the idea of making rhinoceroses forms of wire mesh and filling them with organic material. They would be displayed in fields alongside cows. The project was refused but I decided to build a rhinoceros for an exhibition at the Grave Centre in Victoriaville. This first rhino was named Emma in honour of another Emma who was born the same week.
Emma, mesh and autumn leaves , 1998
Emma was filled with autumn leaves by the students at St-Georges de Shawinigan-Sud School and displayed at Victoriaville from November 20 to 18 December 1998. The second rhino, which I built in Quebec for a show at Action Art Actuel in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu was named Georges.  
Georges and Emma, 2002
 
A sort of chain reaction followed the birth of Emma. In January 1999 I was invited by Joan Crous to create another rhino in Bologna, Italy with the students of an educational-lab that helps with the social reintegration of ex-addicts. This work was done in June 1999. The Italian rhino, named Giacomo, was filled with a mixture of sweet grass.
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Giacomo, mesh and sweet grass,
Tolè di Vergato, Italie, 1999
 
Giacomo was placed on the Piazza Santo Stefano in Bologna 29 June, 1999. In early 2000 it was part of a thematic exhibition on shapes and odours created by the student lab run by Joan Crous and Giovanna Bubbico. It is now part of the collection of Bologna's Health Department.

Giacomo, mesh and sweet grass, Piazza Santo Stefano, Bologne, Italie, 1999

   
In February 1999 I submitted a project to Le Vent des Forêts association to create a rhino from the Rhinoceros Migration series for their Meuse pathways. The project was selected from many submissions. The French rhino fed on small branches that it found in the forests of Meuse.

 

Lili, mesh and small branches,
Le Vent des Forêts, Lahaymeix, France, 1999

   
Lili was created in two weeks thanks to the collaboration of citizens of Dompcevrin who were volunteers with the association which had organized the symposium for three years. A special thanks to Pancher family.
My assistants :
Pierre Vilain, Gérard Pancher,
Jean-Pierre Gervasi, Lili et Gisèle Biron
Le Vent des Forêts, Lahaymeix,
France, 13th July 1999
 
The trip to Europe was made possible by travel grants from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec (CALQ) and the Canada Council of the Arts.
   
Gerhard, linden branches and mesh, 2001
As well as reinforcing the mesh, this technique gives a very interesting quality to the animal’s ‘hide’.
In spring 2001 I was invited by Jean-Marie Boivin and Nadia Schmidt to participate at the Garten der Sinne symposium in Gehren, Germany. They asked me to create a European cousin for Lili. I elected to install Gerhard in a field of linden trees and had the idea of intertwining linden branches with the structure's wire mesh.
Gerhard, linden branches and mesh, 2001
   
In 2002 I was invited by Pierre Martin of Blue Dragon Art to present my work at Taipei Artists Village in Taiwan. For that occasion I created two rhinoceroses.
Shu-Ling, mesh et bamboo, 2002
Shu-Ling was made of mesh with intertwined bamboo. He still stands in the inner courtyard of Taipei's Artists' Village.
Disappearing, bamboo circle, 2002
Disappearing is a bamboo circle that was suspended from the ceiling of the exhibition room. This dialogue between two creatures underlines the fact that the species is in danger of extinction, largely due to Asians who believe the horn is an aphrodisiac.
   
 
In 2003, when I was invited by Blue Dragon Art to participate at the international Jin-Shan symposium I created my first permanent rhino. A-Chung was made of welded stainless steel rods and filled with local round stones.
A-Chung, stainless steel rods and stones, 2003
 
   
 
The second permanent rhino was installed in the interior courtyard at the Quai des arts at Carleton in the Baie-des-Chaleurs. It was also made of stainless steel rods and filled with stones. We called her Guylaine.
 
Guylaine, stainless steel rods and stones, 2003
 
In winter 2007 I did Mavis during my residence at School of Performing and Visual Art, University of Tasmania. Launceston, Australia.
Mavis, stainless steel rods and stones, 2007
 
 
 
Leena was born during an artist residency at Kemijärvi in Finland in summer 2010. Residents have given me the stones which are inside and it is installed on the grounds of a government building which is located near the church. This is the most northerly of all rhinos in the series since it is north of the Arctic Circle.
This work has been performed with financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
 
Leena, stainless steel rods and stones, 2010
 
Jui Yen, stainless steel rods and stones, 2012
Jui Yen was born during an artist residency at the Chung Hwa High School in Muar, Malaysia in summer 2012. The stones were put there by the students and they wrote messages on them. This is a Sumatran rhino, the smallest of all rhinos, but also one who is most at risk of disappearing due to loss of its natural habitat.
This work has been performed with financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
 
To be continued in a temperate zone near you...