February 2 — March 8, 2024

Rihab Essayh

Beneath the Willow Tree

Taking Ophelia, a fictional character from Shakespeare's play Hamlet, as a reference, Beneath the willow tree represents the point of view from the water of Ophelia's death.

Filmed in the lake Ontario, this video envelops the viewer by footages of a figure attempting to drown, not yet succeeding or failing. Through the sound of the water, the viewer can hear echoes of Ophelia’s songs that linger as her words of truth in her world.

Research on female characters who have died by voluntary drowning following feelings of alienation has led the artist Rihab Essayh to work on Ophelia’s symbolic death. The suicide of Virginia Woolf is another starting point for the artist’s work; wondering how her descent into madness and sudden lucidity were confirmation of her departure. Considering alienation as a cause of depression for women has prompted further questioning for the artist about the borders between madness, depression, euphoria and ecstasy.

Rihab Essayh

Born in Morocco and raised in Tiohtià:ke/ Montreal, Rihab Essayh is an interdisciplinary artist whose large-scale, immersive installations create spaces of slowing down and softening. Her practice is informed by her ethos of soft futurism; a sensibility that uncompromisingly imagines new and equitable futures that identifies vulnerability and interdependence as pillars of collective liberation and wellbeing. She completed her MFA at the University of Guelph in 2022.

Artist Profile