Paul-Émile Borduas A Critical Biography

By François-Marc Gagnon
Translated by Peter Feldstein
Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013, 596pp

Excerpted from a review written for Montreal Review of Books:

Walter Benjamin argues that a translation is the transposition of a text from one language to another as both a renewal of the original work and a revival for succeeding generations or alternate cultural contexts. With this in mind, the recent translation of François-Marc Gagnon’s biography of the celebrated modernist painter Paul-Émile Borduas offers a rich art-historical resource to a potentially global audience of English-speaking readers. At the same time, the effect of this linguistic “displacement” on our understanding of Borduas as a historical figure becomes a reoccurring theme within the content of the text itself… read more

Network Consciousness: Art Metropole (Toronto) and Residency Unlimited (Brooklyn)

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Live translation of 1973 agitprop video at Art Metropole (Toronto) alongside launch of Nathan Isbergs’ Atlantic-Griffin Manifesto, 8 February 2014

Nobu Adilman of the Toronto Eater puts the Manifesto into context with the video screening in,  The Atlantic’s Nathan Isberg Cooks Up a Manifesto .

Video screening and Q&A with Julia Oldham at RU (Brooklyn), 18 February 2014

This figure of speech has long been used to describe tangled lines of transportation or communications technologies and the people who use them to send goods and information from point to point. Because of the pervasiveness of social media, mobile phones and other technologies that augment our daily lives, we consider communications systems to mimic human behaviour and thought. By this logic, we can only perform as the technology does… read more

Watch the videos

Cette figure de style a longtemps servi à désigner l’enchevêtrement des technologies du transport et des communications, et les usagers qui les utilisent pour envoyer des biens et des informations d’un endroit à l’autre. L’omniprésence des médias sociaux, téléphones cellulaires et autres technologies qui amplifient notre vie quotidienne nous amène à considérer ces systèmes de communication comme des représentations de nos comportements et pensées. Suivant cette logique, notre productivité ne peut que refléter celle de nos technologies… lire la suite

Visioner les vidéos


Light On (Flashlight) by Luis Jacob : Network consciousness / La conscience du réseau

Luis Jacob, Light On (Falshlight), 2013, video still. Courtesy of the artist.

Luis Jacob, Light On (Falshlight), 2013, video still. Courtesy of the artist.

Network Consciousness : A Screening of Light On (Flashlight) by Luis Jacob (2013)

Écart Critique, Nicolas Mavrikakis, Le Devoir, Arts visuels, 9 Novembre 2013
Some ideas are further elaborated in an interview with Nikolas Mavrikakis.

SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art, in association with Vidéographe and Vithèque, presents a one-night event at SBC on Tuesday, November 12th at 5:00 pm to launch Vidéographe’s Network consciousness, a series of multi-venue exhibitions that compliment an online video program. In a time when virtual environments are omnipresent, artist and independent curator Felicity Tayler attempts to link physical and online events.

This one night event presenting a new work by Toronto artist, Luis Jacob, is unique and limited in time and space, but nonetheless will be shared, or networked, over time to a wider audience who is also undergoing a similar experience in other locations and on different platforms. Continue reading

West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977

Edited by Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011

Excerpted from a book review written for C Magazine 118 (2013):

Editors Elissa Auther (Associate Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado) and Adam Lerner (Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and chief animator in the Department of Fabrications) offer strategies for understanding “lifestyle as an art form.” Their etymology of the term “counterculture,” as a category imposed through the sociological literature of the period, brings together performative, participatory or durational practices through a common ideological orientation. The search for alternative ways of living finds a common cause in the rejection of the technocratic organization of American society – and specifically government collusion with industries that benefited from nuclear rearmament and the Vietnam War… [Auther and Lerner ague,] countercultural forms do not materialize as modernist art objects, but rather as an expression of a way of life; therefore a distinction between the counterculture and the avant-garde has rendered such practices invisible to art historical scholarship that focuses on discreet objects. Likewise, these ways of life are overlooked by histories of the 1960s that focus on direct action as defined through the politics of the New Left. For historians of civil rights movements, projects of cultural transformation through aesthetic means appear apolitical. The essays collected in West of Centre address this gap in scholarship with a view to providing a geneaology for participatory or collective practices in contemporary art today…

Light Years : Conceptual Art and the Photograph 1964-1977

Edited by Matthew S. Witkovsky
Chicago: The Art Institute of Chicago, 2011, 264 pp.

Excerpted from a book review written for Ciel Variable Magazine, no. 94 (2013)

The title phrase of this catalogue, Light Years, is a pun on an oft-misused term. Although widely thought to refer to a measurement of time, it is actually an astronomic unit measuring the distance travelled by light over one year. What meanings can this term have when applied to a historical survey exhibition of photographic practices around 1970? Aside from the obvious reading (the period 1964–77 as a span of time captured by the camera’s mechanical register of light), one could propose an analogy between the space–time equation of the light-year unit and the spatial immediacy and temporal anteriority proposed by Roland Barthes in his 1964 essay Rhetoric of the Image. As a cultural signifier, the photograph exists both as an object in the present and as a seemingly faithful representation of the past – the viewer’s interpretation is dependent upon the correspondences between the two…

Lancement: Le jeudi 9 mai 2013, dès 17h00
Lieu : Le Café de la Cinémathèque québécoise
335, boul. de Maisonneuve Est
Métro Berri-UQAM

On the politics of publicity

An advertising firm specializing in social media marketing contacted me this week. They inquired if I would be interested in carrying a text-based ad on this poorly-trafficked site, promising a fixed upfront annual fee.

I failed to see the advantage that advertising with me would bring to their client(s), and told them as much, asking “Who are your advertisers and what is their target demographic?”

For $150 a year, the company will draft a blog post to place on this site. This is dependent upon their client’s evaluation of my site content for compatibility. As an example, I was directed to a post on a blog devoted to family vacations at Disney resorts. Embedded within a heartfelt description of one anonymous family’s vacation experience was a hyperlink to the  Virgin Atlantic airline company (there were no other links in the post content).

This earnest rendition of familial bliss was produced by a team of content writers – subject to approval by the blog’s creator (Disney).


Le prix littéraire / Literary prizes

Le prix littéraire : Le système des prix est un phénomène propre au 20ème siècle, une époque dont la compétition et le gain monétaire ont été parmi les principaux leitmotivs. Dans le monde occidental actuel, ce système est présent chez toutes les classes sociales et dans plusieurs domaines, du sport équestre au milieu de l’art, en passant par la danse de salon et l’agriculture. Cette obsession donne lieu à une prolifération absurde de médailles et d’ordres de mérite — les décorations que reçoivent les généraux qui n’ont jamais porté d’armes, par exemple. Ne peut-on affirmer que ce besoin d’évaluer, de juger, de classer et de récompenser l’effort et la réussite soit symptomatique d’un humanisme de plus en plus décadent? — un humanisme où le succès matériel et la reconnaissance priment sur tout autre aspect de la vie?

A definition of literary prizes from J.A. Cuddon’s Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. 4th ed. (Penguin Reference, 1998) translated by the imminent Simon Brown. Read live as my introduction to the Art’s Stars in Hollywood event.