6 – 31 May 1998
In November 1997, Sylvie Blocher was invited to Toronto by Ryerson Polytechnic University to participate in the school's artist-in-residence program. During her stay, the French multi-media artist began production on her most recent video project, entitled Themselves. This two-channel video installation, part of her continuing series, Living Pictures, presents a sequence of interviews with Toronto-area taxicab drivers, all immigrants to Canada. Prompted by the artist, the drivers speak about their experiences in this country and recount memories of the places they have left.
Blocher's Themselves is presented for the first time in this exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University. The work is complemented by a number of other video projects by the artist. The short vignettes that comprise Daily Activities to Make Life Presentable (1989-95) allude to the unspoken items of real and symbolic suffering endured by women. In Between You and Me There is Us (1995), people on the streets of Bilbao offer silent confessions to the camera, mouthing secrets they could never reveal publicly for fear of recrimination. Blocher's works exact a balance between silent aspirations, subtle, cautious beauty, and direct and open violence. Her works bear a false innocence, slightly perverse, but always powerful.
Sylvie Blocher seeks the vulnerability that comes from giving of oneself. Whether her subjects are workers, actors, or anonymous individuals, Blocher invites them all to drop their defenses, to offer spontaneous acts of confession. She allows the faces on the screen to speak in their own voices. And they are imperfect voices, awkward voices, sometimes violent, sometimes silent voices. She is interested in the plurality that results when people speak not of ultimate truths, but merely as individuals. Hers is a quest to find a shared language, to seek a glimpse of the other: to discover what is alive, not what is absolute.
This exhibition is presented in conjunction with Contact ' 98. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Ryerson Polytechnic University; l'Association Franšaise d'Action Artistique/ French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; FRAC Languedoc-Roussillon; Galerie Roger Pailhas, Paris; and the Cultural, Scientific Cooperation Services of the Consulate General of France, Toronto.