by Robert Legendre
It has now been more than a year since Marcel Blouin, Serge Clément and myself took over the managing of CV photo, maintaining the views and stances of the Board of Directors of les Productions Ciel Variable, its publisher. With the publishing of Issue Number 20 in September 1992, the format of the magazine was modified and its content definitively oriented toward contemporary photography.
Since then, subscriptions and newsstand sales have increased (thank you). It must be said that we have a special interest in this aspect of our activities since it is the only reliable indicator by which we can judge the soundness of the modifications we undertook to give new life to the magazine.
The “bilingualizing” of CV photo is part of a second group of transformations we are undertaking. We wish, with this step, to increase the visibility of the photographers to whom we are giving exposure and thereby to familiarize all audiences with their work. The addition of a second language of publication will permit us to benefit from a greater number of readers with an interest in superlative photography.
Currently, it is easier for us to recall the names of American or European photographers and the titles and subjects of many of their works than those of our local photographers. Do not misconstrue this assertion to be a chauvinistic view of affairs: You have but to run your eyes over the racks of a newsstand or the shelves of a bookstore and you will get an accurate idea of what the popular expression “internationalization of the markets” means. In the realm of publishing, we are faced rather with a “quiet invasion,” but an invasion nonetheless, in French as well as in English (I will not take up the problem here of the dumping of unsold products in which French and American distributors engage [which is closer to waste management than marketing]).
We must observe that the majority of photography publications (regardless of the field of endeavour promoted) are foreign-published and that the publishers of these magazines present-as they must-the work of their own countries’ artists. So we can say good-bye to the majority of our own photographers and to the least bit of recognition they might get in their own country. A couple of them might possibly attain a certain local renown (Geneviève Cadieux is an exception and thus proves the rule). Whether we desire it or not, this imposition of the foreign-nourishing and invigorating at times-doesn’t help us very much in the long run and creates a dependence-a cultural, intellectual and artistic alienation-in French as well as in English. The solution is not to bar others from our markets, but to assure that everybody plays by the same rules. We must gain a foothold in these markets by means of material that is of equal or (we should hope) greater quality than that which is casually tossed at us from abroad.
This “bicultural” (and, I should mention, non political) move is nonetheless modest and is directly related to our purchasing power. In this first bilingual issue, the original articles that accompany the portfolios are presented with summaries in another language. In the near future, we hope to offer a complete translation of all of the texts that appear in these pages (advertisers take note!). Apart from the summaries of the articles and of the usual information, we are providing a complete translation of the Editorial. Our aim is to offer two distinct groups of readers the opportunity to appreciate-in addition to the images-the discourse that they inspire. These are humble beginnings, but ones that will, I hope, add to the satisfaction of our readers and our artists.
Besides making our photographers known and recognized throughout the entire country, we believe that a bilingual CV photo will be more exportable and will reach those interested in photography in the United States and Europe more efficiently (we will do our best not to “dump”!).
This quality guarantees our artists and authors that we are providing quality support for their work. All of these efforts allow us to continue to offer these pages to photographers as a forum for exposure and as an alternative to the walls of exhibition spaces. We are now looking for the means to match this quality with a flavour analogous to that offered by certain art galleries and self-managed distribution enterprises. The magazine’s quality of reproduction also allows us to offer photographers a special “production opportunity” in the same vein as “art books” and installations. Always, we must innovate, since we are not yet quite where we would like to be.
Enough dreaming-let’s talk content!
In this twenty-fourth issue of CV photo, you will find three portfolios, as usual. First are the images of Benoît Aquin, a photographer-documentarian who through his work offers a profoundly humane, intimate and attentive view of the world and of people. Attempts at objectivity, often a dominant factor in this photographic genre, are entirely absent. No voyeurism, no sensationalism-just facts, and only facts, always in context. Aquin tells us about people and places that in themselves create the anecdote, the incident or the event. This portfolio is accompanied by a convincing text written by Pierre Dessureault, assistant curator at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. He is noticeably well-acquainted with Benoît Aquin’s efforts, which for him provoke a questioning of the relationship between the “documentary act” and the “creative act” in photography. He covers the photographer’s work over a broad period, puts it into context and explains it in simple fashion by describing its origins.
Next is a portfolio of France Choinière (who is also the author of this issue’s cover photo). This artist uses photography as a “basis for her self-expression.” With it, she develops a unique universe, a language at once seductive and intriguing-“the looking-back of the frustrated person,” as René Payant might have said. Yes, artists still do this-and Choinière does it very well, with generosity and, above all, with passion. This articulate work is marked by finesse and subtlety and calls to our dreams and to our egos. The portfolio is accompanied by a text written by Paul Breton (who is a close friend of the artist), which explains the content and the tone of his discourse as well as his familiarity with France Choinière’s efforts and the explanations of her work.
The issue wraps up with a portfolio of the Toronto photographer April Hickox. This document is more concerned with the work itself than with the usual bringing together of several works within a single presentation. The “dialogue” between the images brought together here directly feeds the imagination. A reflection is initiated, owing to the pairings, the unicity and the content of each of the images as well as to the special presentation chosen for their publication in CV photo.
This final piece is accompanied by two short texts by Denis Lessard and Kate McCormick. First, Lessard analyses the working mode of the artist and reveals vocabularies essential to understanding the work. Kate McCormick examines some of the primary concerns of the artist-those which led the artist to this particular approach and that continue to fuel her current photographic production. This last text clearly alludes to the primary socio-cultural momentums of the sixties and the seventies that helped spur the emergence of a feminist discourse (or emancipationist discourse, depending upon the point of view) within the contemporary artistic realm. Therefore, these two texts take on, in different ways, the same subject, the same artist and the same group of works.
The works of these photographers are also presented in the exhibitions organized as part of the Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Canada’s only Photography Biennal, which takes place between September 7 and October 10 1993.