Michel Campeau: Icons of Obsolescence - Commemorating the darkroom
Ottawa - October 16, 2013
At the National Gallery of Canada
October 18, 2013 to January 5, 2014
Since 2005, Montreal photographer Michel Campeau has photographed the vestiges of what is now termed “analogue” photography. His subject matter—darkrooms, film cameras, safety lights, and flashbulbs—is now almost archaic, products of a by-gone industrial era. From October 18, 2013, to next January 5, the National Gallery of Canada presents some forty of these photographs in the exhibition Michel Campeau: Icons of Obsolescence. The photographs capture and commemorate not only darkrooms across Canada, but those in Mexico, Cuba, France, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Vietnam and Nigeria. In other images, the artist isolates old cameras and photographic paraphernalia in a void of black, transforming them into icons worthy of veneration. More than documents, these images are first and foremost works of visual art and poetry. For more information, visit gallery.ca
Organized by NGC Associate Curator, Photographs, Andrea Kunard, Michel Campeau: Icons of Obsolescence highlights the materiality of the older photographic method, while alluding to the psyche of a culture increasingly removed from the physical in its embrace of the intangible world of the digital.
In his photos, Campeau transforms the previously familiar; safety lights glow as suns, blue moons appear at the bottom of waste bins, an Alexander Calder sculpture blossoms from light dodgers, and strips of coloured tape transmute into a Guido Molinari painting. The artist’s images blend documentary and art, nostalgia with rational clarity, purposefulness with chance. They are a reminder of the enormous transformation that has occurred in just over a decade for one of humanity’s most accessible and ubiquitous mediums.
Andrea Kunard is Associate Curator, Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada. She has presented several important exhibitions, including Shifting Sites (2000), Susan McEachern: Structures of Meaning (2004), Michael Semak (2005), The Painted Photograph (2006), Cheryl Sourkes: Public Camera (2007), Steeling the Gaze (2008) and Scott McFarland: A Cultivated View (2009), Fred Herzog (2011), Spaces of the City (2011), and Clash: Conflict and Its Consequences (2012). She has taught the history of photography, Canadian art and cultural theory at Carleton and Queen's University. In addition, she has co-edited The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada, and written articles on contemporary and historical photography in a variety of publications including The Journal of Canadian Art History, the International Journal of Canadian Studies, Early Popular Visual Culture, Muse, C Magazine and ETC Montréal.
Michel Campeau and Robert Burley in conversation with Marc Mayer
On Saturday, October 26, come listen to Robert Burley and photographer Michel Campeau speak on their respective exhibitions addressing the disappearance of analogue photography. Hosted by NGC Director Marc Mayer. At 2:30 pm in the Auditorium. Free admission.
NGCmagazine.ca, the National Gallery of Canada’s online magazine is a frequently updated source of information on the Canadian art world and the goings-on at the National Gallery of Canada. Correspondents from across the country provide engaging and exclusive content on historical and contemporary art in Canada. This online magazine includes exclusive interviews with artists. This month, read the article Requiem for film: Robert Burley and Michel Campeau and an interview with the artist.
Connect with Michel Campeau: Icons of Obsolescence
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Tickets. Adults: $12. Seniors and full-time students: $10 Youth (12-19): $6. Families (two adults and three youth): $24. Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members. Includes admission to the NGC Collection.
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About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information: www.gallery.ca
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