Vidéozoom Québec. L’entre-images is a videographic anthology of works by seven Quebec artists who define themselves not as filmmakers but as visual artists motivated by the exploration of the image in motion. The works it brings together are all too brief and make no claim to being representative of video and film practice in Quebec in the absolute. A full account of this impressive effervescence would required a far more ambitious format. It should also be borne in mind that many artists – and all those included here – create video works to be exhibited in museums and galleries as installations, their projection conditioned by format and specific equipment in spaces that enable visitors to experience the works in a controlled environment. However, the present exhibition, in the form of a continuous showing of all the works on the same screen, offers the advantage of conveying shared sensibilities, displaying affinities for an often carefully crafted image, attesting to concern for an audio presence and revealing effective elliptical strategies of the image.
This project is offered as a glimpse, an opening, a breach into the immense production of images that characterizes the contemporary world. The works must be viewed as if one were peeping at them through a slit, a sort of “between-the-images,” both for what they represent within contemporary practices and for what they are individually in their respective formal and narrative dimensions: between video and cinema, film and digital image, visual presence and aural reality. This notion of a “between-the-images,” taken from the theorist Raymond Bellour,2 is first of all interesting because it implies we must seek in depth, dig below the surface of the images, and not be content to pass distractedly, superficially, from one to the next. We must not simply linger over the “endless flow” of images. This same notion also implies that the proliferation and saturation of images are not the real problem facing us today. As Pierre Scheffer writes, “We have no idea whether or not we are saturated with images, and we never will. We weren’t there in prehistoric times, when guys were probably saturated with images because their noses were stuck in graffiti in the caves, and it was a lot worse than TV.”3 This remark eludes a widespread assumption to the effect that no one knows how to look at an image any more because there are too many of them. On the other hand, it is our belief that what matters is what occurs between the images, or between them and the sound that accompanies them, or between them and the sound and text that tell their story in parallel. As witnesses to their movement, we must capture their immobility; before these animated figures, we must “re-figure” their image; exposed to their aural dimension, we must seek their silence.
The works gathered together for this edition of Vidéozoom on Quebec thus provide a moment’s pause to contemplate the work of artists who are among the most captivating and enterprising in investigating the image. These short videos deal with a variety of subjects in the realm not only of politics, popular culture, television and movie imagery but also of the poetical image. The emphasis is sometimes on form, sometimes on narrative or content, while sound, time, the archive, landscape and performance are some of the compositional elements from which what is displayed is constructed.
Several of the works are a function of a specific parameter suggested to the artists: a duration under four minutes. This concentration in time has two consequences. On one hand, such a restriction forces an artist to accelerate the process of giving form to an idea through an image so as to achieve a certain perceptual and narrative effectiveness. On the other hand, a short work can have an effect of slowing down on viewers, who are at liberty to take the time to look carefully, dissect, scrutinize the images one by one to fully appreciate what they see in a time frame that is easier to assimilate than a full-length feature. In the “between-the-images,” a language takes shape between what is perceived and named, what is seen and designated, the world and art. For today, images truly confront us with what they embody or disembody, construct or deconstruct, repeat or reinvent. They are more often a suggestion than a demonstration, and therein lies their appeal.
La Fabrique d’expositions, Montreal, October 2012
1. Louise Déry and the Fabrique d’expositions thank the artists, Mary-Angela Schroth of Sala 1, Pierluigi Matera, director of the Museo di Roma in Trastevere, the Québec Government Office in Rome, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and UQAM, who contributed in various ways to the realization of this project.
2. Since the early 1980s, Raymond Bellour has developed a thorough analysis of the connections between film, video, photography and mixed regimes of the image. He founded the cinema review Trafic (1991) with Serge Daney and has published, among other things, L’entre-Images (1990) and L’entre-Images 2 (1999). He collaborated on the exhibition Passages de l’image at the Centre Pompidou and was the curator of Thierry Kuntzel. Lumières du temps and Thierry Kuntzel – Bill Viola. Deux éternités proches at Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing, France.
3. Pierre Scheffer, in Maurice Mourier, Comment vivre avec l’image (Paris: PUF, 1989), p. 340.