by Franck Michel
All objects are both bases for relations and communications, signposts for our dreams, admitted or secret, and tools that we use to assimilate the world.1
— Serge Tisseron
We have not often dealt with objects in these pages. Following a suggestion by Jennifer Couëlle, we decided that it was high time to dedicate an issue to them, using the work of the Montreal artist Johanne Gagnon as a point of departure. In her recent work, she has inventoried and photographed the bottoms of objects that she uses every day: bowl, coffeemaker, sieve, casserole, and so on. Her images, exquisitely refined, show us the undersides of things and give these utilitarian objects, that we never seem to have the time to look at, a soul.
We also present some work by Robert Pelletier, a Montreal artist who died, too young, a number of years ago. This Chercheur de Trésor (seeker of treasure), as he defined himself, tirelessly searched the soil for objects altered by time, half-buried in earth, or forgotten somewhere. His treasures were the most banal, worthless things from the recent past – bits of a toilet bowl, a rusted lock, a fragment of a plate, a little box; photographed magnified on a black background, they were restored to a lost dignity. This series by Pelletier is both a touching statement about our consumer society and the contemplative testimony of a collector of “little things of no importance.”
The work by Robert ParkeHarrison, an ecological fable and a reflection on the mad world we live in, combines the approach of the collector and aimless archaeologist with that of inventor (or, more precisely, “patenter”). Using recovered industrial and natural objects, he creates farfetched, outlandish machines. In each photograph, ParkeHarrison casts himself as an experimenter on his own inventions, which thus become an extension of his own body. For ParkeHarrison, as for Gagnon and Pelletier, banal and uninteresting objects are elevated, when they are caught in an image, to the privileged rank of art object. These artists’ works also cast a subtle but incisive eye on our society, ruled by the constant quest for new objects.
To conclude, I must tell readers that this is my last editorial. I have decided to leave my position as editor of CVphoto to spend more time, among other things, on my own art practice in the fresh air of the Lower St. Lawrence. I would like to thank the entire CVphoto team, for their assistance, support, and confidence over the years. I would also like to thank our ever-increasing readership for their faith in this magazine. CVphoto is an essential tool for diffusion of contemporary photography in Quebec and Canada, and I wish it a long life.