Critical Writing Index

The Lingering Present: Canadian Video Art in its Youth: 1968-1986

by Lisa Steele

Analogue, 2006, pp. 42-46

Preston: Electronic and Digital Art Unit, 2006

This article looks back at the history of Canadian video art works.

The first part of the article talks about the National Film Board's documentary Challenge for Change which sought to challenge the notion of the traditional documentary by giving cameras to the poor in Newfoundland and Alberta. These early video documentaries used portapaks to record interviews with impoverished town folk and were an attempt at creating real social change. The National Film Board decided shortly after however, to return to traditional means of filmmaking.

In the late 60's and early 1970's artist run centres began to pop up. Starting off informally and then later including membership fees and transforming from hang-outs into artist-run centres.

In 1971 Pierre Faladreau and Julien Poulin collaborated on Continuons le Combat a film about post-October-Crisis Quebec. The film uses images of a goat being beheaded and a rowdy crowd at a wrestling match as metaphors for the radical separatist conflict in Quebec.

In 1972, Colin Campbell made a video about a small town in New Brunswick called Sackvile. Titled Sackville...I'm Yours the video features Campbell talking about himself as the celebrated artist of the town creating an 'art star' persona for himself.

In 1973 Jeffrey Spalding's piece Video Wash involves him washing the monitor in a both violent and gentle manner.

In 1974 Lisa Steele's Birthday Suit examines physical memory as Steele gently strokes scars on her body while recounting how and when they happened.

In 1976 Paul Wong's piece 60 Unit Bruise documents a performance between two men who draw the blood from one of their arm's to the other's back.

Later work draws upon memory such as Susan Rynard's 1985 work Untitled (A Tape About Memory) which holds images stil in a shimmering fashion.

Robert Morin and Lorraine Dufour made Le Voleur vit en Enfer in 1984. The piece involves a man's phone conversation as the voice-over. The conversation reveals that he has to go on welfare and find a new apartment, while images of urban poverty in Montreal are shown.

ITEM 2006.127 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Continuons le Combat (The Fight Must Go On)Pierre Faladeau

Julien Poulin

Sackville...I'm YoursColin Campbell

My Recall of an Imprint of a Hypothetical JungleDavid Askevold

Video WashJeffrey Spalding

Contact Piece: A Nude Model (Donna)Eric Cameron

Birthday Suit- With Scars and DefectsLisa Steele

SayRodney Werden

Unit BruisePaul Wong

Division de la NatureDaniel Dion

Phillippe Poloni

PilotGeneral Idea

Television's Human NatureTom Sherman

Live WireAlex Poruchnyk

...In the Absence of HerosJayce Salloum

UntitledSusan Rynard

The Last Screening Room: A ValentineVera Frenkel

Le Voeur vit en EnferRobert Morin

Lorraine Dufour