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Mémoire morte, mémoire vive (United States-Canada)

March 7 to April 6, 2002
Eric Cameron, Vid Ingelevics, Vik Muniz

Mémoire morte, mémoire vive brings together the work of three prominent artists in an exploration of photography through the idea of memory and artefact. In an obsessive practice of preservation and transformation, each artist works with the photographic image, redrawing it from memory (Vik Muniz), entombing the image in ice (Vid Ingelevics), or imbedding it under layers of paint (Eric Cameron). Ultimately, through this process of revealing and concealing, the original images are obscured and transformed, disclosing their inherent fragility.

In the spring of 1979 Eric Cameron began painting everyday things in his apartment, a shoe, an alarm clock, two lobsters. Upon these objects he applied alternate layers of white and grey gesso. He would paint one side of the object, let it dry and then paint the other side, recording each application of paint. Twenty-three years later, Cameron continues this process. Hundreds of coats have been surpassed by thousands of coats and the works, called Thick Paintings (to be continued), have grown into independent and unpredictable sculptural forms. In Thick Painting: Exposer/Cacher: Salima Halladj, the object is an exposed but undeveloped roll of film on which Cameron photographed the 12 orifices of a female body. A similar project entitled Thick Painting: Exposed/Concealed: Laura Baird includes 10 rolls of undeveloped film which the artist began coating between 1994 and 1996. Numbers II, III, V and VI are exhibited at Dazibao.

Vik Muniz’s recognition is due, in part, to the unconventional materials – chocolate, string, sugar, dirt – he frequently deploys in his image making. While the photograph is the final product in his work, each picture represents a drawing Muniz has created in the likeness of another image. The photographs from the Best of Life series (1988-90) exhibited at Dazibao, are Muniz’s earliest works. From memory, the artist sketched well known images from Life magazine – a portrait of JFK junior, the Saigon execution of a Vietcong suspect, the first man on the moon. Over a period of two years he returned to the drawings as he recalled more, adding layers, whiting-out, cutting and pasting. He then photographed his pencil drawings, printing them through a half-tone screen. Under the many layers of memory and reproduction, the photographs resemble the familiar images we know and remember, however there is also a layer of subversion, in which the artist encourages viewers to be sceptical about authenticity, memory and perception.

Vid Ingelevics’ work has long been concerned with photography’s mediating role in our understanding of the past. His first installation, Museum of a man (1987), made use of the museum as a visual metaphor for memory loss. In subsequent projects, his work continues to examine relationships between photography, museums, archives and issues of identity. The photographs exhibited at Dazibao come from two related series of works with the overall title, Ice Age (1994 & 1996-98). In the first body of work, photographs ordered by the artist from the Deutsches Museum archives in Munich were encased in ice and then re-photographed. The second series of photographs features various types of recording media sunk into blocks of ice. These barely discernible images of film, video and audio tape, defunct computer hard drives and ice itself become metaphors, on several levels, for the fragility of the remaining record or “trace”.

Eric Cameron was born in Leicester, England in 1935. He taught at Leeds University, England, moving to Canada in 1969 to head the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph. He taught and was head of fine art departments at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design 1976-1987 and the University of Calgary from 1987 to the present. His extensive national and international career includes recent solo exhibitions at Hatton Gallery, Newcastle, England (1999); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Deacon Ulrich Fine Arts, Calgary; Muttart Public Art Gallery, Calgary; Tate Gallery St. Ives, England; Leeds City Art Gallery, England (1998). Since 1979 Cameron’s art and supporting theoretical writing have centred on his Thick Paintings (to be continued).

Vid Ingelevics was born in Toronto in 1952. As an artist and curator he has pursued his interests in photography’s role in historical representation and a fascination with the urban space of Toronto, where he lives. His work has been exhibited in Canada and in Europe including solo exhibitions at Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto (2001); Koffler Gallery, Toronto (2000); the National Museum of Photography, Riga, Latvia (1994) and in group exhibitions at The Power Plant, Toronto, (2001); Foto Biënnale Rotterdam, Netherlands (2000) and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa (1999). Recent curatorial projects include Gift Shop, commissioned and exhibited by the Winnipeg Art Gallery (2000), and Ingelevics’ major archival-based project Camera Obscured: Photographic Documentation and the Public Museum (1997-2000), which was commissioned and exhibited by the Photographer’s Gallery in London England, and toured across Canada.

Vik Muniz was born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, and emigrated to the USA in 1983. His work has been exhibited extensively in North America and abroad including solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museu de Arte Moderna, Salvador, Brazil; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2001); Musée de l’Élisée Lausanne, Switzerland, (2000); Centre National de la Photographie, Paris, France; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA (1999). In 1998, the International Center of Photography NYC mounted a ten-year retrospective of his work. He participated in the Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, Brazil in 1998 and 2001. This is the first time Muniz’s work has been exhibited in Canada. Vik Muniz lives and works in New York.