Marc Audette + Barbara Steinman: Intervalles

August 27 – October 15, 2005




Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain is proud to present two exhibitions of Marc Audette and Barbara Steinman. Marc Audette's Cran (2005) shows a double image, totally abstract, that can be read only if the spectator blocks one of the two images projected on the screen. "This action – the dependence of a fixed image on human intervention – may remind us of the daguerreotype which must be held in the hand and tipped back and forth for the image to manifest its brilliance." The title of the work recalls the gear mechanism of 35 mm cameras, where notches located between the gear wheels temporarily block their operation. In Cran, a screen is placed in the middle of a room between two video projectors, thus obstructing their light beams.

On entering the exhibition room, the visitor sees, on one side, a device that projects a positive image on the screen. On the other side of the room, a second device projects the negative of the same image on the same screen. The encounter of the two projections on the surface of the screen causes a disintegration of the image, leaving a whitish form. The image of the Medusa only appears when the viewer slips between projection and screen, producing a play of shadows.

The image was taken in Turkey or more precisely Istanbul, in an underground cistern I found in the Sultanahmet quarter, in the historical heart of the city. I have several reasons for choosing this particular site. The first, which is very personal, goes back to the beginning of my practice, when I was interested in Philippe Dubois and his thoughts about the photographic act. Dubois reflects, in particular, on the relationship that the viewer entertains with the work. Using the surface properties of water to reflect and project his thoughts, he speaks to us of photographic ideas through the myth of the Medusa. The cistern where water and Medusa came together in one place gave me the perfect opportunity to revisit photographic ideas that had inspired me in the early years, when I first stared thinking about my work.

So much for the relationship between the work and my own history, which is only one of my reasons for creating Cran. For me, the history of this giant stone head gives the work a special dimension. The Medusa, recycled as construction material, once graced the façade of a noble Turkish house. People believed at the time that the head would ward off misfortune, but somewhere between the 14th and 16th centuries, in the middle of religious wars between Christianity and Islam, one of the belligerents removed the sculpture from the front of the house and placed it in the cistern under the city, thus affirming their supremacy.

As I put this work in context, I am reminded of another reason for choosing this site to capture the images for Cran: Istanbul itself, a city divided between two continents, Europe and Asia, between two great cultures, West and East, between two great religious movements, Christianity and Islam. The Medusa of the cistern perfectly illustrates the outcome of this confrontation between two ways of “believing” the world. And although her displacement happened over 500 years ago, recent history clearly shows us that the forces that brought these two great cultures into conflict are more alive than ever. What remains to be seen is who and what in our culture will be swallowed up.

Barbara Steinman is presenting Roulette (1993-2005) in Montreal for the first time. The sound sculpture is a reflection on risk, loss and gain. "It's a time when the desire for control, submission to the random, and the laws of chance affect us all… This work was inspired by games of chance played in a casino." Barbara Steinman is also showing Tablets: Breath and Souffle (2005). These recent works are from her series of visual representations of sound (wave forms) rendered in glass. Each glass plate contains mute traces of spoken words.

The gallery is pleased that Martha Langford included the two exhibitions, which were planned a while ago, in the section "Pictures as a Way of Shutting our Eyes" of le Mois de la photo. As the event's Artistic Director writes : "Significantly, the work of these artists, while non-photographic, comments on the history of photographic invention and reception by asserting not only the contingence and partialness of vision, but our investment in these conditions as the seedbed of communication. »

Marc Audette holds a Master's degree in visual arts from York University (Toronto) where he is also teaching. Since the mid-eighties, he has shown his work within different group and solo exhibitions, for instance, in France, Toronto, Montreal, Hull and Ottawa. His works are also part of collections such as Québec's National Museum of Fine Arts and the City of Ottawa. This fall, Marc Audette is going to publish Écran/Screen a catalogue regrouping the works presented in the exhibitions "Beau temps, mauvais temps/ Rain or Shine" and "Screen".

Recipient of the 2002 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, Barbara Steinman is known for her innovative artwork, use of technology and response to site. Her video sculptures and multimedia installations received international recognition and were included in major exhibitions and biennials in Tokyo (1985), São Paulo (1987), "Aperto" in Venice (1988), Berlin and Cologne (1989) and Sydney (1990). In the 1990's, Steinman's work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art and Jewish Museum in New York, Stedelijk in Amsterdam, ICA Boston, Tate Gallery Liverpool, as well in Los Angeles and Tokyo and was included in the Seoul Biennial in 2000. For more information on Barbara Steinman please consult:

1. Martha Langford, « Intervalles. Marc Audette et Barbara Steinman », Mois de la photo, Presse de l'Université McGill.
2. Barbara Steinman: A Lapse in Logic, Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, 1993.
3. Martha Langford, op. cit.


Dault, Julia. The National Post, At the Galleries, 1 september, 2005

Redfern, Christine. Mirror, Life and Luck, 1-7 septembre, 2005, p53

Mavrikakis, Nicolas. Voir, Audette et Steinman, 1 septembre, 2005. p68


-Marc Audette's page on the PFOAC website

- de Barbara Steinman's website