The Time it Takes
Le temps qu'il faut


The Time it Takes is the first solo museum exhibition by the artist Emma Waltraud Howes. It aims to highlight the many lines of inquiry that run through her recent practice by presenting a selection of works from between 2012 and 2024.

When Howes was a child, her mother would tell her a version of the story of Sedna, the Inuk goddess of the sea. According to legend, members of a village fled famine in kayaks in search of new hunting grounds. Sedna’s father, seeing her as one too many mouths to feed, threw her overboard. Sedna managed to hang onto the sides of the kayak, but her father struck her frozen fingers with a paddle. Her hands then split into pieces and turned into fish and marine animals as Sedna sank to the bottom of the sea. Since then, she has reigned over all of the ocean’s creatures and seeks vengeance by creating storms that terrorize mariners and influence the yield of their hunting and fishing trips.

Early on, Howes experienced the rigid and formatted universe of classical dance, where subjectivity and personal opinion are unwelcome. And although her fingers weren’t cut off, in some sense, her tongue was. When we lose the ability to speak, how can we be heard? How can we protest what is happening to us? What can we do when we are haunted by the ghosts of the past? The body becomes a space of resistance, the medium through which everything is expressed, and the source of a new language. Howes makes sense of small and great histories by transforming them into fantastic, prolific, and fertile narratives.

In her most recent project, titled Bang Bang Baroque (2024), Howes uses a maximalist aesthetic to compose her own mythology where everything is related: the personal and the political; the relational and the social; the vegetable, animal, and mineral; the imaginary and the tangible; histories and History. Dust from the Sahara desert made from the fossils of thousand-year-old fish is carried by the wind over the ocean and into the Amazon, where it nourishes the forests. In much the same way, we carry in our bodies today the trauma of our ancestors.

For several years, Howes’s work has reflected this interconnection. Her multidisciplinary projects often take root in drawing and speculative choreographic notation before evolving into three- and four-dimensional form. These then perpetually feed off of each other. This intermedial translation process extends over a long time, the time it takes to give shape to movement and life to form.

Howes’s projects generate many kinds of traces. Her libretto for the film Bang Bang Baroque (the aria’s lyrics and choreographic indications) is heavily annotated. A selection of footnotes from this document is included in the labels so that the story of the exhibition can extend the story of the artist’s practice.


  • Curator: Charlotte Lalou Rousseau

Exhibition History

  • The Time it Takes
    Musee d'art de Joliette
    Joliette, CA

Related Publication


This exhibition is made possible by the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Superframe Framing Fund.

From February 10 2024 to May 12 2024


Part of The Time it Takes Project
Part of Bang Bang Baroque Project