On a Global Scale

[Winter 2001-2002]

by Jacques Doyon

The works in this issue will seem, at first glance, diametrically opposed to each other. They involve very different subjects, from monumental architecture (Carl Zimmerman) to the world of collectors (Veli Granõ) to the ruins and waste of consumer society (Ramona Ramlochand).

And their visual means – their modes of portrayal – are in extreme contrast. Zimmerman creates, first in the form of maquettes, imposing architectural spaces, which he photographs and then presents in the form of pictures evoking old images. On the other hand, Granõ photographs collections of objects of all types (from ornaments to train cars, from handcuffs to sound recordings) arranged around the collectors who have assembled them. This series exudes a strange impression of disconnectedness, as if these people were absent from their own lives. Finally, Ramlochand’s digital montage, with its exaggerated colours, offers the panorama of a world accumulating debris behind an environment pulled together from bits and pieces to serve tourism and recreation.

However, we could consider all of these works to be a form of portrait – as representations of an identity both individual and collective, both human and societal. Zimmerman considers his images to be portraits, as Robin Metcalfe reminds us, and thus encourages us to read them in reference to very real places, buildings, and cities. Granõ’s images are relatively classic portraits, with their subjects defined by the groups of objects surrounding them . . . but they are also representations of the systems of objects, or “cosmologies,” that seem to define their creators to the point that they swallow them up. And for Ramlochand, the portrait can only be the generic one of a society, an era, caught up with the rupture of its values and a shift in identities.

These works also tend to “make worlds,” to use Nelson Goodman’s expression for describing all approaches, both scientific and artistic, that aim to create a system of meanings that encompass the world. Zimmerman’s “fictions” are thus proposed as landmarks in the real symbolic landscape. Contrary to monumental architectures, long designed as embodiments of power or symbols of utopia, his “realist” fictive models constitute counter-examples, images of a disproportionate and crushing world. The different “tangible cosmologies” of the collectors in Granõ’s series represent attempts to bring the world back to a more easily comprehended scale and to impose a certain order, even in a sublimated form, upon it. They are also means to rehabilitate objects too quickly disposed of and, in some way, to slow the irreversible flow of time. Finally, Ramlochand’s panorama proposes a path, a desire to make sense out of a profusion of details and images in a kaleidoscopic world. This is a step that must be constantly taken and retaken . . .