79 - Automne 2013

The widespread occurence of rerun, repetition, revival, recycling, reconstruction, and other words prefixed by re liberally called upon in artistic discourse has propelled esse arts + opinions to question the specific meaning and critical import of practices that fall within the scope of "re-enactment".


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Articles à la pièce

Amelia Jones
Jacinto Lageira
Vincent Lavoie
Lynda Dematteo
Séverine Cauchy
Juliane Debeusscher
Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte
Sylvain Campeau


Re for “Retort”


The Lure of Re-enactment and the Inauthentic Status of the Event
Exploring the recent obsession with re-enactment, this article points to the limits of claims for “authenticity” that often accompany this obsession. The key question posed here is whether the re-enactment (through its reiteration of the “live” act) indeed escapes in some way the usual commodification that besets the more or less static artworks circulating through art institutions. While the obvious answer to this question is “no, not at all,” the article suggests that re-enactments (precisely because they “redo” an otherwise ephemeral act that does not exist as a static object, keeping temporality and duration in play) call into question how art-value systems tend to rely on stasis, foregrounding the processes through which meaning and value are determined in art discourse and art institutions.

Re-enactment: False Evidence and Dangers
The notion of re-enactment is explored here on the semantic level, in order to reveal the ambivalences, ambiguities, and contradictions of the term, and on the historical level in order to grasp the unique definition devised by historian and philosopher Robin G. Collingwood. Re-enactment is interpreted above all in the light of works that integrate historical documents and archives.

The Case for Art. Legal Re-enactment in Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood
In the judicial sphere, re-enactment is a legal act aiming to reproduce supposed actions committed during the execution of a crime. Yet, these re-enactments have a subjective dimension that may be attributed to their performative or illustrative dimension. The subjectivity inherent to the very procedure of re-enactment is not lost on contemporary artists, as evinced by Christian Patterson’s recent work Redheaded Peckerwood (2011), a loose reconstruction of Charles Starkweather and Caril Anne Fugate’s infamous killing spree in 1958, which I examine in this essay.

Re-enactments versus Re-enactments: European Artists tackle Populist Aesthetics
Populist movements stage reconstructions that systematically invert symbols of national emancipation. Replayed in a parodic mode, the historical symbols work in the opposite way and dismantle the community. Although, in its modern version, the imaginary builds communities, here we are faced with a phantasmic formation born of a rejection of the symbolic pact and an accentuation of crisis. The relationship between reality and fiction is blurred. This is precisely the point at which contemporary European artists intervene: by replaying populisms, they wish to make this confusion visible and unravel our oppression by images.

A Unique Experience of Re-enactment: DRAGOONED by Sandy Amerio
Breaking down the usual barriers between documentary film and fiction, Sandy Amerio’s film DRAGOONED recreates a historical scene in order to offer new perspectives. A documentary on the re-enactment of an episode from the Second World War, this fictional work leads viewers from the initial propagandist vision to a contemporary version created by a group of re-enactor soldiers. Confronting and eventually “feeding off” individual and collective narratives, several interpretive leads intertwine over a period of time that is manipulated and winds back on itself. Through this fictional looping effect, the historic re-enactment gives rise, in an astonishing manner, to the emergence of a unique perspective.

Living and dead bodies. Performing Ceaușescu, 1978-2007
This article proposes a reflection on two video works by the Romanian artist Ion Grigorescu: Dialogue with Ceaușescu (1978) and Post-Mortem Dialogue with Ceaușescu (2007). Both stage a conversation between the artist and a masked figure of the communist dictator, in two radically distinct historical moments: under his authoritarian regime and after the collapse of Communism as a political and economic system in Eastern Europe. Particular attention is given to the characters’ presence and voices and their relation to the condition of both the living and dead body.

Continuity Error: Mediatized Re-Enactment in the Work of Kerry Tribe
Considering the re-enactment as a process of replication that is itself indicative of new meanings and relations, the text looks at the ways in which this artistic strategy makes tangible the multi-linearity of time. The work of Los Angeles-based artist Kerry Tribe is discussed as explorations of the reconfiguring potential that emerges from the process of re-enactment, and the mediating potential of time-based documentation. Tribe’s film installation H.M. (2009) and her video There Will Be ____ (2012) are analyzed to provide insight into the different ways in which the artist aligns the flaws of human cognition to those of indexical media documentation in order to rework the past and construct new versions of it in the present.

Remaking the Work
Attempting to delineate the idea of reconstruction through its various applications by history buffs and to compare them with what a critical analysis of current artistic practices may bring to bear, the author dwells on the work of Adad Hannah. Reconstruction of a certain kind is at work with Hannah, whose prime focus appears to be a search for truth and authenticity. One performed, however, with a degree of lucidity, concerned less with arriving at a unique truth than with culling the truth that can arise from the experience of re-making.


Mike Nelson


Les temps individuels de Catherine Béchard et Sabin Hudon [In French]
Ce texte constitue un compte rendu d’exposition de l’installation Les temps individuels des artistes Catherine Béchard et Sabin Hudon. C’est sous la forme d’un commentaire réflexif que se développe l’article, qui présente d’abord l’origine du projet, les différents éléments de l’œuvre puis le sens que les artistes y rattachent. Parallèlement, l’auteure reprend ces éléments qu’elle développe à son tour. Elle aborde également la manière dont l’œuvre s’inscrit dans un cycle sur le thème des fluides sonores et dont le thème s’est lui-même transformé au fil des œuvres. Elle expose enfin l’idée que le son est nécessaire à la mise en évidence du silence.

The Voyage, or Three Years at Sea, Part IV
The review proposed is for the fourth instalment of curator Cate Rimmer’s series of six exhibitions on the sea. The exhibition examines the economic, political, and moral topography of maritime spaces through a film essay by Noël Burch and Allan Sekula charting the flow of global maritime trade, a historical collection of images by Uriel Orlow contextualising the centennial of the Suez Canal, and a film installation by Stan Douglas exploring ethical conflicts in the isolation of a cargo ship. I would like to look at how these artists re-examine the familiar murky territory of the sea as a sublime space of risk and escape.

On the SpectActor: Janez Janša Performative Installation The Wailing Wall
The article presents an artwork of Slovenian author and director of interdisciplinary performance, Janez Janša (previously known as Emil Hrvatin). The Wailing Wall (2011) is a performative installation consisting of three cabinets: Cabinets of Memory (Physical, Individual and Collective), and a wall built of huge ice bricks. A visitor enters either of the cabinets to recall her memory of something that brought her to tears. After receiving a gold, silver, or bronze certificate, the visitor walks to the ice wall where she can place a personal notice into a rift in the wall. The performative installation The Wailing Wall is an example of identical/auto-sensual performing bodily relations, where a spectator becomes one with a performer, i.e., a spectActor.

Young Critics Competition

Marquer le coup. Coup de foudre chinois / Like Thunder Out of China

The Great Canadian Art Exportation: Oh, Canada and the Myth of the White North


Re : manière raide


Paris | Fabrice Gygi by Vanessa Morisset

Marseille | Printemps de l'art contemporain - Contre-temps by Nathalie Desmet

Montréal | Robert Polidori by Jennifer Alleyn

Venice | The Encyclopedic Palace by Gabrielle Moser

Montréal | Message personnel by Christian Saint-Pierre

Montréal | L'homme atlantique (et La maladie de la mort) by Christian Saint-Pierre

Publication | Thomas Demand: Animations by Katrie Chagnon

Publication | Espaces blancs : essais, créations et dérives by Katrie Chagnon

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