By Sylvain Campeau
Chroniques de l’art vidéo au Québec
Montréal, Éditions Somme toute, 2021, 239 p.
Let’s start by saying it straight out, without splitting hairs: this book will be highly useful to everyone interested in the visual arts in Canada, and particularly in the emergence of video art in Quebec. The fact that the author decided to call this essay a “chronicle” is also to be remembered. In a way, he is unabashedly enabling us to appreciate the memories of someone who played a major role in this history and who hesitates to say that he has the distance necessary to produce an impartial and totally detached chronology of events. We salute his humility, but we nevertheless recognize that an important brick has been laid in our knowledge of the subject – an important brick and, especially, an original chronological description.
This book is not simply a historical record; Jean Gagnon sometimes puts on his critical hat. It is not simply a listing of a series of events. Gagnon also uncovers vectors, which are not exclusive categories but aesthetic choices validated by video makers who reached out to and researched what the new medium suggested to them. The strength of this essay, beyond the fact that it sets a precedent, is in the balance that Gagnon maintains between the two sides of the mission that he set himself; the final chapters also combine thematic and critical sections. Both aspects reinforce each other…
Translated by Käthe Roth
[ Complete issue, in print and digital version, available here: Ciel variable 120 – FIGURES OF AFFIRMATION ]
[ Complete article and more images, in digital version, available here: Jean Gagnon, Vidéocaméléon — Sylvain Campeau ]