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Garth Amundson and Pierre Gour met at the Banff Center of Fine Arts Residency in 1986 and have collaborated in various degrees for the last 27 years. Some bodies of their work are literal collaborations, conceived, developed, and actualized side-by-side. At other times, they serve one another in a support role: one-person sewing panels together, applying photographic emulsion or realizing the design and installation of the work. In either context, they are truly a collaborative team of artists who insist on continuing to produce challenging work that keeps them stimulated and provokes an audience response.

Their work explores the perceptions and politics surrounding the home and domestic sphere and identity politics. Using the technique of collage/montage and photo scanning to speak metaphorically about the social construction of identity, their installations invite the viewer to think about one’s own gender construction by psychologically projecting themselves into the images.

In each project they seek to explore and dissect identity using their own experience as a point of departure. For example, during Amundson’s eight-month Fulbright in Mexico in 2007, their own sense of home was put into question. After being forcibly separated at the U.S./Canada border, and after 22 years as a couple, they were faced with the prospect of not having a home together. Underlying all of their work, are these recent experiences with immigration laws, which have threatened their sense of home. Although legally married in Canada, the Defense of Marriage Act bars same-sex couples from all federal benefits in the U.S. conferred by marriage, including the right to sponsor an immigrant spouse for permanent residence. Same-sex bi-national couples can be forced to separate because U.S. law views them as strangers.

Appropriating vintage studio portraits as metaphors for different situations, provoking questions in the viewer's mind. Each print tells a distinct story alluding to hidden histories and how communities were created through a series of secret codes, unspoken language, and clandestine connections. They are now working on a body of work for exhibition in South Korea, in the spring of 2013.

Amundson holds an MFA from Syracuse University and Gour from the University of New Mexico. Both are founding members of Shift Collaborative Studio in Seattle. Amundson is a Professor of Art at Western Washington University. Gour is an independent artist and visual manager for Macy’s downtown Seattle.  

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