Category Archives: Articles

Under a Campeau Blue Sky (2001)

The renewal requires a death. Specifically, the second life, the new alternate life that comes with middle age, requires the identity-death of the child past, the symbolic figure of the immature being. So, Michel Campeau begins his new multi-part project Arboresccnces (2000) showing a young girl busy writing, and then he invokes an earlier picture set in a cemetery in which a barren tree shadow falls across the rocky ground, in the upper corner of which is the open maw of a freshly dug grave.

De villes en déserts: Alain Chagnon’s Recent Road Work (2000)

In June of 1998, fifty-year-old Quebec photographer Alain Chagnon undertook a journey. As a man and as a photographer, he was propelled in flight from the “here” of home in search of what must be found away and somewhere else. From this particular corner of the continent, he set out west and south to roam and photograph in Kansas and eight other of the much-travelled and -photographed southwestern United States, including Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and California.

Architecture Without Walls: Notes on the Home and Office, Atelier in situ and Discreet Logic (1999)

The commonplace that computer and communicational technologies have collapsed space should not be limited to the sense that they have contracted distance, but also that they overwhelm spatial division and compartments. This produces not only spatial dislocation (like the intimate cell-phone conversation held in the supermarket aisle) but also divi­sional collapse: as when a once-specialized space loses its dedicated purpose and becomes multi-faceted and multi-layered in its functioning. I’m thinking in particular of the tele-distanced, wired up, fully equipped and furnished oxymoronic “home office.” (It is a vestigial Marxist notion that new technologies are on the side of an emer­gent class.)

Disability Without Tears: The Neutralization of the Grotesque (1998)

Before he ultimately lost his battle with cancer in 1994, my father had lived for fourteen years with the consequences of a laryngectomy. This operation successfully prolonged his life, but left him disfigured with a hole at the base of his throat, a strange respiratory arrangement (he breathed and coughed through the stoma) and the loss of his voice.

Observations of (and from) Contemporary Landscape (1986)

As a professional group, landscape architects and designers are among the most conser­vative and least expected to display in their work that potential for critical thought which aids the negotiation of history. An archaic in­terest in gardening or non-agricultural cultiva­tion represents a quietist or reclusive urge — “tending to your own garden” is the very motto of a retiring privatism, while Nietzche identified and posited the garden as a social space antinomous to the flux and chaos of the market­ place.

Fashion, Envy & the Gift (1985)

The problem of the counterfeit (and of fashion) was born with the Renais­ sance, with the dé­ structuration of the feudal order and the emergence of open competition at the level of distinctive signs… With the end of the bound sign, the reign of the

Ritual and Camera (1985)

Over the last two decades, both installation and contemporary photography were empowered by a suspicion of the cult of the marketable art object — specifically, the commodity fetish. Yet, while historically contiguous, and often sharing a common audience, the strategies of the two modes are completely different.

Ceci Tuera Cela: The Fate of a Notion (1984)

It occurs often enough that some notion, en­closed as a figure, brought forth for a specific occasion and bound to a particular moment, is plucked up by others, bent and stretched, accu­mulates and develops further meanings and applications, and is eventually received so bat­tered and misshapen that we can only wonder what possible use it may have remaining for anyone.

Donigan Cumming: undoing documetary (1984)

The project began when Donigan Cumming asked at the local grocery store if he could ac­company the delivery boys as they delivered their beer and groceries. (In display, the first im­age is usually of the empty storeroom with the sections marked off for inventory.) Together, they arrived at the customer’s home, where the photographer met the occupants and made a proposal: he wished to photograph them and offered, in return, to provide a selection of “technically proficient snapshots” for them to keep.