Sylvie Readman – James D. Campbell

[Winter 2018]
Sylvie Readman, Sans titre (panier de basketball), 2017, inkjet print, 89 × 114 cm

Sylvie Readman, Sans titre (panier de basketball), 2017, inkjet print, 89 × 114 cm

À contretemps II : site spécifique
Galerie Laroche Joncas
August 23–September 23, 2017

By James D. Campbell

In this photographic essay, Sylvie Readman brilliantly addresses the strange topography of the abandoned military base at Saint-Hubert, Quebec, in terms of non-place and liminal space. Her fortuitous discovery of this site has resulted in some of her most memorable images to date.

The Saint-Hubert base was a locus of some notable historical events – to cite but a salient few, the arrival in 1930 of the British-made R-100 airship; its importance during the Second World War and subsequent expansion during the course of the Cold War; and the fact that, during the FLQ “October Crisis,” the body of Pierre Laporte was discovered nearby on October 17, 1970, and identified by a military doctor. In 1995, it was decided that the base would be dismantled. Its eloquent remnants are the focus of Readman’s project.

As we survey the images in this exhibition, we find a convincing embodiment of French anthropologist Marc Augé’s concept of the “non-place”:1 a space of transience in which the human subject is anonymous – and, in Readman’s work, only an interwoven web of traces. Like the highways and airports cited by Augé, the architectural structures of the abandoned military base and its eerie segregated and overlapping domains empty of human subjects are integers of nonplaces that resonate with melancholy, entropy, and the disintegration of all things…

1 Marc Augé, Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity, trans. John Howe (New York: Verso, 2009).

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