News / Winnipeg

#Pride30: Artspace executive director displays pride through creative work

Eric Plamondon uses art and theatre to challenge gender stereotypes.

Eric Plamondon said art has always been a part of his queer identity.

Claire Paetkau/Supplied

Eric Plamondon said art has always been a part of his queer identity.

Eric Plamondon is a multi-disciplinary French artist who likes to challenge heternormativity through art. 

“There’s quite a few [queer artists] in Winnipeg, but there isn’t a lot of us who consistently sort of use our queer life experiences as a way to strengthen our art practice,” he said. 

Plamondon said he participated in an open mic a few weeks ago, and the experience made him realize that having gay characters in a story isn’t something that is usually expected. 

“Two-thirds of the way into the story there’s the reveal that the two characters are gay, and it is a story about desire,” he said. “And literally, from back row, I could hear this very audible gasp. And was like ‘this is not expected, and that is interesting.’”

“I use the mediums I’m in to carry the narrative through.”

Plamondon said art has always been a part of his queer identity, but it wasn’t until his mid-twenties that he decided to tackle that part of himself. 

He had been working on a few stories when one of his colleagues asked if she could read them. At the time, she was the publisher for Outwords, a local queer magazine, and asked to publish his stories in it. 

Plamondon said he realized his work had more than a peronsal value to it—there was value of having it in the community and the public. 

“[It was] not only for artistic reasons, but for social reasons,” he added. 

Plamondon has been professionally involved in the art industry for around seven years. He currently works at Artspace as the executive director, and he is currently writing a French play where the two main characters are queer. 

•••

What's your favourite Pride moment? 

"I remember sitting a few years back on one of those grass hills at The Forks with a friend of mine, who’s from the French community as well. And he was way more flamboyantly dressed than I was. And a few other member of the French community stumbled upon us and were trying to understand what was going on. 

It was this fantastic moment of ‘right, sometimes it just takes you to invite someone and that’s all they need.’"

Why was Pride important 30 years ago? 

"I myself have a lot more work to do to understand the history of my community. I was involved with Reel Pride (Winnipeg's LGBTTQ film festival), and at the time I was helping them with marketing and communications, and realized we had no pictures. So I was like, 'Okay, let’s take some photos.'

There were some board members that they gave incarnation to it [Reel Pride], and they’re like ‘Hmm yeah, there’s a reason there’s a culture of not taking pictures of us. And they brought us back 30 years ago and explained what conditions were back then.'"

Why is Pride important today?

"We’re clearly not as visible as we sometimes think we are. We’re not as claimant of space as we should be and can be. And so Pride is a bit more than a week now, but it’s a week where we reclaim space. That is still absolutely huge. 

It’s also sort of, how many people do I know that were trying to figure out if they are if they’re not [gay], and they sort of needed that event to permit themselves to explore that part of who they are. So on so many levels Pride is crucial."

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