Everyday Objects

[Fall 2000]

by Jacques Doyon

The way we glance at objects in a familiar environment could be the connection between the photographic works assembled for this issue. Whether these objects are contained within the household, a workplace, or a small business, they inhabit and condition our spaces and ways of life.

For Nicolas Baier, the objects that pile up on the TV table or accumulate on the bed are those of everyday life. Banal and interchangeable, they are simple signs of ordinary times, to which we usually pay no attention. Baier’s photographs record the movements of these objects, and those of light, by mixing elements from a multitude of photographs from a single point of view. His images concentrate two lengths of time: that of the successive photographs and that of everyday life, with a real or simulated temporality. Baier fragments his images and combines their elements in a grid, from which emerges a pixellated or geometric effect, especially in the zones where wall surfaces of various brightnesses alternate. These inlaid images and their permutations evoke the multiplicity of media images and their precariousness. Baier’s images thus offer a model for a reading that is fragmentary and in motion, constantly being recomposed.

Ruud van Empel’s series of digital collages offers a commentary on the homogenization and abstraction of work in the office world. The series gives a sort of typology of professions symbolized by a person sitting behind a desk and surrounded by the attributes related to his or her function. The collages combine three-dimensional object and graphic image in a space that oscillates between the depth of a classic perspective and a flattened plane. In this plane, oversized objects, offered as emblems of different professional worlds, literally dominate the image. One might even speak of “portraits of objects” in that the person placed at the centre of a constellation of objects becomes a bit player, conferred with only a generic identity.

Howard Ursuliak is interested in our perception of places and objects marked by the passage of time. In Stores, worn and obsolete objects and furnishings of small, more or less abandoned stores evoke the loss of status of owners of small businesses and their spaces. The empty scenes recall a presence that is an absence, an exclusion of trade networks, a marginalization of ways of life of another era. Market shows a flea market outside of business hours, at a time when the objects are hidden under sheets. These scenes, their tables draped with what look like shrouds, somewhat evoke absence, or death. At the same time, these hidden objects bear the potential for resocialization: a second life promising a fresh utopia of a presence in society and the community.

Complementing these portfolios are texts by Emmanuel Galland on Baier’s work and by Mariona Fernández on van Empel’s collages, as well as Howard Ursuliak’s statement. Finally, Susan Close’s “point of view” emphasizes a reading of the image that takes into account its anchoring in the contextual and the social.