Into Black... et pas blanc comme neige
Virginie Doré Lemonde

Ciel variable, no. 84 (Spring 2010), p. 70-71.

Translated from French to English by Google Translation (apologies to Virginie Lemonde and Ciel variable)
Original review (pdf)


Into Black ... et pas blanc comme neige
Jason Dodge and Rob Kovitz
Dazibao Center for Photography, Montreal
From October 24 to November 28, 2009

Dazibao gallery presented an exhibition this fall, particularly outside standard. Indeed, the works of artists Jason Dodge and Rob Kovitz, on the reuse of images and the development of the narrative, are destabilizing both in substance and in form.

Jason Dodge, an American artist who now lives in Berlin, moved out Into the Black, who is actually in the exposure of four sheets of blank paper apparently. "The artist asked four friends working in four embassies in the same street in Berlin to present each one sheet of photographic paper in the light of sunrise, the summer solstice in 2006." [1] These leaves are in fact remained gray uniforms. They should not reveal or conceal nothing and do not have images or text. Because of the lack of explanatory text, the viewer is thus left to itself and without any illuminating comment.

The Canadian Rob Kovitz, meanwhile, presents a work of more magisterial. Indeed, it is a huge brick of almost 5000 pages divided into eight volumes called Ice fishing in Gimli. The visitor is invited, as the library, to sit and read the books.

The story takes shape for the reader as it becomes familiar with the subject he has in the hands. Emerges is a sort of biography of the artist, where the anxieties and fantasies sometimes seem to be more important than childhood memories. In fact, this hybrid work, constantly wavering between text and image, is a radical break from the usual narrative structure and visual: "texts and images from various sources that the artist amalgam, orders, and juxtaposes a disassembly so conceptual, although very subjective." [2]

The written portion of the eight volumes is composed entirely of quotations, apparently unrelated, from famous poets and writers from Flaubert to Beckett via Frederick Philip Grove, considered by the artist as the first Canadian writer to importance. Thus, the personality of Kovitz shines, but the reader also participates in the construction of the narrative as there inevitably is planning his own experiences, whether a citation or an author that particularly affect, or a photograph of him rap shovel memories. In addition to the citations, the volumes are composed of several forms of art, from photography to illustration. You will also find maps, paintings, musical staves. It is interesting to note that despite aspect of these disparate elements together placing forms a surprisingly coherent.

Rob Kovitz living in Winnipeg and is obviously very attached to this land, it is a project eminently Canadian or Manitoba, which will be more insupporting to reach those who have already braved the cold north. Winter is indeed present from beginning to end, there was talk of white peach, large spaces, snowy childhood spent playing in the snow banks. But if the passages that speak of the outside temperature or childhood are quite clear, Kovitz remains enigmatic when it comes to love, desire, travel, career. Several questions remain unanswered, and some topics, such as cannibalism or unexplained disappearances, give the impression of being part of much deeper concerns. It seems to be a search for meaning, and if "after the Encyclopædia Universalis the mystery is the appointment of an enigma, it is in these gaps, these gaps and absences, in quest of which is not revealed, that the act of reading itself participates in the construction of the narrative." [3]

Thus, it is the lack of response that reaches the bottom form and the reader, who believed that the figure mentioned in these books was that of the artist, wondered whether it would not, ultimately, himself. The levels of reality are confused and thinking about the image, the simulacrum and the truth that is attributed to the writing finally took the first place.

In fact, both artists offer, so diametrically opposite, a different and original understanding of what is given to read and see. We could discern an awareness of two contemporary artists who show the subjectivity of art and the fact that each reader will assimilate different visitor there before him by his life story. The idea here is to read between the lines and interpret what is given us to see everything and wondered about what is not said or shown. Like Lynch and Antonioni film, we meet up to a point in an aesthetic of disappearance. It is the quest of the box that is supposed to find the truth and, inevitably, is empty in the end.


1. Current Exhibition section: http://dazibaophoto. org / en / programmation.html

2. Press Release, p. 1: http://dazibaophoto. org / img / press / into_black / dossier_presse.pdf

3. Ibid.

Virginia Gold Lemonde has an MA in Film Studies on the representation of the modern artist in film. In spring 2009, she participated in organizing the film festival of La Rochelle. She also works to magazines ETC and Ciel variable.


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