MAIN SPACE EXHIBITION
JANUARY 13 – FEBRUARY 4, 1995
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 1995 AT 8 PM
ARTIST TALK: SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 1995 AT 2 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
722, 11 AVE S.W, CALGARY, ALBERTA
PAULINE DUBOIS was born May 4, 1950 in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, France. She is an artist and polypersona, working as a mentor, a character, and a collaborator in an organization dedicated to the recirculation of crucial desires. She has worked on several projects with local artists, most recently, in an exhibition titled Anecdotal Waters or Stories of Representation, which was a collaboration with artists Mireille Perron and Paul Woodrow presented at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery.
Imagine a world in which there is no time; a world in which past, present and future collapse and you are left with only images. Images would then become your reality, just as in this installation, the images and the history they create are Pauline Dubois’ reality.
As I enter the gallery space, I enter into history (or a reproduction thereof), I am surrounded by darkness and guided through time by the flashlight I hold in my hand. It quickly becomes obvious that I am not in a world do permanent objects, I confront images in which meanings seem intangible, yet with each encounter I try to piece together the meaning of it all. If this is history, whose history is it? Pauline’s? If so, who is she and what’s missing?
The large, darkened gallery space invites me by its almost eerie quality. I step back in time, into history, into someone else’s memory. The first image I encounter is a reproduction of a film still, visually flipping itself back and forth. But it is only a glimpse into something much larger. Is this an image of Pauline?
“My histories, which in French can mean both histories as well as stories, ar linked in my mind to graphic symbols, slogans, and film images, What interests me is the idea of reproducing still images from film images, which I have previously experienced as moving. For me there is something special about the process of distantiation. The image can be read as part of a narrative, except that in many cases we do not know what precedes it or comes after.”
Slowly on my right, what appears to be images of a wall constructed only of fragments comes into focus. As I look closer, these fragments are themselves fragments of another wall. Again, a reproduction from another time. The graffiti written on the wall begins to take shape. “Take your desires for Reality”. Whose desires? Whose reality? Mine, the other viewers, Pauline’s?
“What surrounds these images is a specific content and more importantly a process of reproduction, which are both linked irretrievably to time.”
A sculpture and a miniature Eiffel Tower become the next objects I encounter. The painted shadows of these objects become more real than the objects themselves. The painted silhouette of a figure appears to the right of these sculptures. Is this silhouette Pauline? Is this record of the figure more real than the figure it is derived from?
In this darkness, I begin to lose a sense of space and time, and objects take on an almost ethereal quality. The light from my flashlight now catches a tangible reflection, but it is somewhat indistinguishable. There is something blocking my vision. Here at the back of the gallery stands a group of cylinders. These classical forms inhibit me from seeing a full reflection; I can only glimpse it in the partially hidden mirrors. The columns become barriers to seeing my presence.
Lining another gallery wall are vestiges of frames, some of which are empty, the images no longer accessible to me, and I am left with only a trace of something ever having been there. This is not unlike my own memory, in which fragments of images make up my past. Is this an example of Pauline’s memory? Is her memory made up of these fragments?
Next is a chest of drawers. These drawers contain photographs and another collection of empty frames. Have the images disappeared, or are they a framework of memories to come? Are these images (memories) being stored for safekeeping? A school photo catches my eye. Is this circled figure Pauline? Are these even photographs of Pauline? In one photo, I recognize Andy Warhol and in still another, Marcel Duchamp. This last one contains a silhouette that has been cut out and resembles the painted shadow I had encountered earlier. But it the silhouette is Pauline’s why has she removed herself from this memory?
“In ‘Missing Histories’ I try to recoup…from the remnants…specific images from the past, those images which still possess a resonance for me in today’s world…those images that can still speak to me, whilst at the same time I try to show impossibility of such a task, how the process is very much like fiction…working in the dark…so to speak…”
Moving towards a glass table, I now see a Tarot card reading and a Chinese Horoscope, indicating someone’s future as well as past. The Tarot reading promises a presence through prediction. The Horoscope establishes a past, an origin, and a history. Is the reading for, or by, Pauline?
Leaving the large gallery space, my dim light illuminates a comic of two figures, What is the relationship between these two? Is the woman Pauline? Who is the man? the text reads, “Just another step down the forking path…” This “forking path” could be read as a metaphor for the search for identity, relating to the choices one makes as one attempts to discover who they are. Guided by memory, these choices become one’s past, one’s history.
When I consider how one learns history, it becomes easier to understand the process of this artist, History is comprised of a selected collection of significant events; snapshots in time. Pauline’s history consists of a section of images. This is her memory. Her history becomes her true identity – it is all we know of her, all that we are given. The artist substitutes signs of the real for the real itself, and the viewer becomes more and more distanced from the true identity of Pauline. We can no longer distinguish reality from our image of it. Authenticity becomes essentially meaningless.
“There is obviously an element of nostalgia in the choices that I have made. The type of image that I employed in this work is very much an acknowledgement of the role that mediation plays in the process of history and the reconstruction of memory.”
This installation is fabricated in such a way that one is asked to create a series of meanings out of what Pauline has placed in the darkened gallery space. She speaks through reproductions to symbolize how memory is made up of selective fragments of imagery. The images found in the installation form Pauline Dubois’ history. They are her identity as well as her reality. “Missing Histories” is about questioning one’s concept of reality, memory, and the origins of identity.