Western Front on SONJA AHLER's THE SELVES book launch

“WF Review - The Selves” / Western Front / Western Front Staff / November 30, 2010

Every year, when you’re a child, you become a different person
— Alice Munro

And I’m a million different people from one day to the next / I can’t change my mold
— The Verve

From these two quotes emerges a unifying motif of Sonja Ahlers’ new book *The Selves*—the negotiation the multiple “selves” we inhabit over the course of a lifetime. Inspired by a range of sources, including the 1976 made-for-TV movie Sybil, about multiple personality disorder sufferer, Ahlers sees The Selves “as a collective biography and a time capsule” for a particular generation of women. Raised by second-wave feminists yet still enthralled by fantasies of celebrity and royalty, this generation, of which Ahlers’ is a member, has learned to negotiate politics of gender, sexuality and identity via a dizzying range of female representations.

Part collage, poetry volume, feminist treatise, art publication, diary and scrapbook The Selves investigates this second-wave legacy with a sense of hope and inevitability. Often hilarious and heartwarming, yet also deeply heartbreaking, Ahlers juxtaposes her own drawing and writing with images and excerpts from a range of feminine archetypes assembled from the artist’s collection of fragments, accumulated since her early teens. Lady Diana, Degrassi teens (the first generation), the Olsen twins, Angelina Jolie, Alice Munro, Sylvia Plath, Gloria Steinem, Queen Elizabeth II, Jerri Blank and Madonna combine to create a self portrait of generation’s subconscious influences.

Ahlers has published two books, Temper Temper (1998) and Fatal Distraction (2004). This third book The Selves has been published by Drawn and Quarterly. She divides her time between Vancouver, Toronto and Whitehorse.

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