Related Links:

Pierre Bismuth

8 September – 23 October 2003

Pierre Bismuth is known for his deadpan manipulation of cultural products feature films, newspapers, and magazines. Creating drawings, collages, musical compositions, and videos, Bismuth mines acoustic and visual perception and the structure of narrative. His alterations are sometimes simple and straightforward for example, a newspaper's front-page photo is doubled and displaces its accompanying story, or a paper outfit is collaged on top of a woman's photo from a pornographic magazine. In other works utilizing feature films, Bismuth has removed all audio and replaced it with a text projection of soundtrack transcribed by a typist. All of these interventions delay reception and focus attention on how the structure of a given form governs its interpretation.

Like a number of his contemporaries, Pierre Bismuth has a fascination with cinema and its broad public appeal. By choosing to work with an art form that still has an audience, and by using existing, recognizable films like Jaws or The Jungle Book, Bismuth uses cinema to orient viewers to another kind of event. In his words, "what interested me was to show how an act of reception is already a form of production." Included in the exhibition, Respect the Dead (video, 2001-2002) consists of feature films edited so that the film sequences are cut immediately after the first death occurs on screen. Bismuth's distance from his source, and his disavowal of the function of death in cinema upends the balance of the film and gives identity and significance to otherwise unimportant characters and events.

Pierre Bismuth has had solo exhibitions at Witte de With, Rotterdam (1997), Kunsthalle, Vienna (1997), the Centre d'art Contemporain de Brétigny (2001) and the Kunsthalle Basel (2001). His group exhibitions include the Venice Biennale (2001) and Manifesta 4, Frankfurt (2002). He was nominated for the first Marcel Duchamp Prize in France in 2001. Pierre Bismuth (born in Paris in 1963) lives in London and Brussels, and this is his first exhibition in North America. This exhibition is produced with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.
Art Gallery of York University | Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street | Toronto ON M3J 1P3 | agyu [at]