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one sandpile, within hearing distance, 2012, Interactive installation at Terrain, Oak Park, IL, with readings by community members, duration variable. Installation shot with Whitney Huber. Photograph by Jessica Egan, courtesy of the artist.


life review: sacrifice best what is not yours, 2015, Performance at QUEER, ILL, + OKAY, Storefront Theater, Chicago, IL, approximately 15 minutes. Photograph by JI Yang, courtesy of the artist and QUEER, ILL, + OKAY.


dying exchanges: where conversations about death and dying carry us, 2015, Performance at Columbia College Chicago Faculty Forum, approximately 30 minutes. Photograph by Camila Cediel, courtesy of the artist.


These three images document Joan Giroux’s series life review, a project that emphasizes liminality and interconnectivity, moving viewers, participants, and collaborators through heartfelt, deeply personal conversations on death, dying, and frailty. Turning to her mother as inspiration, Giroux’s one sandpile, within hearing distance is an early iteration of this project. Later, Giroux began to use a nurse’s uniform, one modeled off her mother’s from the 1940s, which can be seen in life review: sacrifice best what is not yours and dying exchanges: where conversations about death and dying carry us. In these, Giroux reflects on her role as a caregiver to her friend Matthew at the height of the AIDS crisis. A repertoire of memories, motifs, and gestures unite Giroux’s work, but these elements signal outward to draw her audience in.

Joan Giroux (b. 1961) is an interdisciplinary artist, activist and educator, who teaches at Columbia College Chicago. In her work, Giroux translates aspects of care-giving in domestic and institutional settings to frame reflections on diminishment, frailty, vulnerability, loss, and death. She performed “Dear Matthew” in the We’re Still Here: HIV/AIDS Then & Now event at Chicago’s Center on Halsted, as a reprise of life review, first presented in JRV Majesty Productions 2015 QUEER, ILL + OKAY performance series. Giroux has performed and exhibited in the United States and abroad, in venues such as the MCA Chicago, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids, Ace Gallery and Artist’s Space in New York, Amerika Haus Berlin, and Künstlerhaus Hamburg. Giroux has received a Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation studio residency, Pollock-Krasner and Berlin Cultural Council grants, and commissions from Illinois’ Morton Arboretum, the South Korean collective YATOO, and Lehniner Kulturinstitut, Germany.

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