Since 2005, Montreal photographer Michel Campeau has photographed the vestiges of what is now termed analogue photography. His subject matterdarkrooms, film cameras, safety lights, and flashbulbsis now almost archaic, products of a by-gone industrial era. From October 18, 2013, to next January 5, the National Gallery of Canada
presents some forty of these photographs in the exhibition Michel Campeau: Icons of Obsolescence. The photographs capture and commemorate not only darkrooms across Canada, but those in Mexico, Cuba, France, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Vietnam and Nigeria. In other images, the artist isolates old cameras and photographic paraphernalia in a void of black, transforming them into icons worthy of veneration. More than documents, these images are first and foremost works of visual art and poetry. For more information, visit gallery.ca
Organized by NGC Associate Curator, Photographs, Andrea Kunard, Michel Campeau: Icons of Obsolescence highlights the materiality of the older photographic method, while alluding to the psyche of a culture increasingly removed from the physical in its embrace of the intangible world of the digital.
In his photos, Campeau transforms the previously familiar; safety lights glow as suns, blue moons appear at the bottom of waste bins, an Alexander Calder sculpture blossoms from light dodgers, and strips of coloured tape transmute into a Guido Molinari painting. The artists images blend documentary and art, nostalgia with rational clarity, purposefulness with chance. They are a reminder of the enormous transformation that has occurred in just over a decade for one of humanitys most accessible and ubiquitous mediums.
Andrea Kunard is Associate Curator, Photographs at the National Gallery of Canada. She has presented several important exhibitions, including Shifting Sites (2000), Susan McEachern: Structures of Meaning (2004), Michael Semak (2005), The Painted Photograph (2006), Cheryl Sourkes: Public Camera (2007), Steeling the Gaze (2008) and Scott McFarland: A Cultivated View (2009), Fred Herzog (2011), Spaces of the City (2011), and Clash: Conflict and Its Consequences (2012). She has taught the history of photography, Canadian art and cultural theory at Carleton and Queen's University. In addition, she has co-edited The Cultural Work of Photography in Canada, and written articles on contemporary and historical photography in a variety of publications including The Journal of Canadian Art History, the International Journal of Canadian Studies, Early Popular Visual Culture, Muse, C Magazine and ETC Montréal.