Category Archives: Catalogue Essays

World Line: Bill Vazan’s Spherical Geosophy (2018)

Through walking, riding, scraping the surface of the earth, marking spaces with string and tape and creating observable conditions of change, Bill Vazan has created situations for heightening our awareness of sites of terrestrial passage and occupation. While geography is the disciplinary study of the planet, geosophy (a concept introduced only in 1947) is vernacular geographical knowledge, or how the planet is commonly known, sensed. conceived or imagined, rather than how it is known and understood by academic geographers.

Gabor Szilasi: L’éloquence du quotidien (2013)

Gabor Szilasi, qui a fait partie de l’exode hongrois après 1956, est arrivé, à l’âge de 29 ans, au Canada où il s’est installé à Montréal. Là, en tant que participant actif, collègue attentif, il est devenu un des principaux acteurs à l’origine de la création et du développement d’une communauté de photographes contemporains à Québec.

Animal/Vegetable/Mineral: Michel Campeau’s Acts of Succession (2007)

Michel Campeau’s “Territoires” are fields where natural history meets the mythopoetic; where states of material being show their symbolic decay and transmutations; and where the resultant mutations point to renewal. Natural history is the temporal account of change in our physical environment. The constancy of nature (the laws of conservation of energy /matter) suggests that all change is a question of the interaction, transformation, and succession between states. At the chemical level, each of the states of matter can transmute into, and be relayed to, another. Chemistry can track the interaction, turns of succession, and replacement between the states of material being.

Claude-Philippe Benoit’s Survivals (2006)

Norbert Elias, the historian of manners, identified the great “civilizing” change occurring in Western society with, among other indicators, the “transformation of the nobility from a class of knights into a class of courtiers.” In the earlier sphere, violence was “an unavoidable and everyday event”, but the development of a series of social interdependencies replaced a warrior environment with one in which the State arrogated to itself “the monopoIization of physical violence.”

Seeing to Care: Roger Lemoyne Photographs 1995-2003 (2005)

Initially, Roger Lemoyne began his photographic career as a traveler with a degree in film-making who took up photography for the independence it seemed to offer. Returning home he found that he could sell his pictures and this new found market gave him a reason (and means) to travel again. As a freelance photographer he could choose his destinations and his pace. The photography and the traveling supported each other.

The Immediacy of War Pictures: Fugitive Images and the “Soda-Straw Effect” (2003)

What can be said about photography in general is heightened in the case of modern combat photography, which has brought the images of war “home with immediacy.” 2 Immediacy is the collapse of spatial distance and temporal duration into the here and the now. Nowness is a condition of amnesia – unreflective, heedless of the past and indifferent to the future. Hereness is body-bound closeness, intimacy- no further than you can smell. Images of immediacy are proximate and fleeting, pictures hastily formed and consumed, fugitive and in close focus. Variations in speed and scope attend to different ways of experiencing and knowing.

What are you looking at? (2001)

Once, to be observed was considered to be attended to. Visibility was much preferable to invisibility in that it meant that your existence was noted, that you had presence and perhaps effect. But increasingly the image apparatus is being experienced as overbearing. To be visible now means to be exposed. Any time you occupy an observable space, you are vulnerable to being mechanically scrutinized. Scrutinizing space is increasing: streets, shopping malls, interior and exterior public spaces, work, even home.

Undue Influence: Photography’s Powers (2001)

While mindful that cross-disciplinary analogies can be dangerous and misleading, I would like to borrow from linguistics its third division and consider the possibility of a “photo-pragmatics”: the study of the ways in which photographs act in the world to have effect and promote certain behaviour.

Picture This! Documenting the Future (2001)

During Michael Mann’s 1981 film Thief, the title character Frank (played by James Caan) proposes marriage to Jessie (Tuesday Weld), a waitress he hardly knows. For her he pulls out his wallet and presents a folded photo collage that we have seen briefly before – he had been shown consulting it as if it were a compass or a map. Among the imagery it included were a few human figures, an old bearded man, a woman with a child, a house, some cars. “Here,” he says, “that is my life and nothing, nobody can stop me from making that happen.”

La diplomatique ou l’évolution du document (1999)

Nommer un nouveau phénomène signifie le rendre compréhensible en établissant un lien entre lui et quelque chose de connu, selon une ressemblance ou une analogie qui les unira pour toujours. Lorsque les premiers documentaristes français, réalisateurs de films touristiques et autres, ont qualifié leurs oeuvres de documentaires, ils revendiquaient pour leur travail le statut de document, à l’instar des enquêtes scientifiques ou des recherches juridiques qui nous renseignent sur notre monde.