By Louis Perreault
First, there was a fox. A few strollers noticed him, but he evaded a closer look by disappearing into the weeds of a post-industrial lot in Montreal East. I quickly took a liking to the animal and made him a sort of personal totem. A discreet presence in the urban environment, this lightfooted nonconformist seemed little inclined to raise his voice to claim his originality. When, in 2012, I had the idea of founding a publishing house, the fox seemed to represent my ambitions perfectly: to produce books that, without opposing the Quebec publishing ecosystem, would discreetly weave their way in, with the goal of reaching a small group of photobook lovers, and, by doing so, to question how these books are made in Quebec.
My colleagues Alexis Desgagnés1 and Mona Hakim2 have already, in the pages of Ciel variable, discussed the shortfalls in support for both production and publicizing of artist books in Quebec, which means that this type of publication lags well behind its international counterparts. In spring 2017, artist Serge Clément and I wrote a letter to the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) to ask for changes to the eligibility criteria for the Promotion program, which provides grants to visual artists. We proposed that it would be desirable to broaden the criteria to respond to artists’ desire to produce something other than monographs, the only real publication form recognized by the program. The letter was co-signed by more than forty colleagues and friends, and it received a polite response from CALQ management, promising a review of the programs that would take our concerns into consideration. If I had to identify the main motivation for my commitment to being an artist and a publisher, independence would certainly be very high on the list. In fact, as much as one might ignore the foxes prowling the neighbourhoods of the city, they will always be a part of it, given their synanthropic nature. Like foxes, independent publishing initiatives will continue to multiply, and one day a way will have to be found to provide them with support analogous to that for initiatives that correspond to programs’ current standards…
2 See Mona Hakim, “Le livre photographique : un état des lieux,” Ciel Variable 106 : 92–93.
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