Nelson Henricks
A Lecture on Art

From April 25 to June 20, 2015
Opening on April 30 at 7 pm

For the opening of the Foire Papier15, the gallery will be open on Friday, April 24 from 5 pm to 9 pm.
Opening hours during the Foire Papier15:
Saturday, April 25 from 11 am to 7 pm
Sunday, April 26 from 11 am to 6 pm
In a society in which the workings of communications technology are often invisible,
the act of revealing its operation can be socially and politically enabling. Works of art created with technology can foster understanding of the interplay between technology, social context and subjectivity.
— N.H.

An artist, writer, musician and sometimes curator, Nelson Henricks is a key figure of video art. For more than thirty years, he has developed a rich body of work addressing issues such as the visual representation of sound, the passage of time, the inherency of slippage in translation—from one language to another, from one medium to another, from one concept to another—and the semantic fields revealed by these slips. Henricks’ work ranges from single-channel videos to complex multi-channel installations, as well as projects that incorporate various other techniques and materials.

The current exhibition carefully considers the notions of temporality and sequence within language and the transmission of ideas. The first works borrow their system from the alphabet. First, a series of twenty-six monochromatic paintings are coloured according to Henricks’ synaesthetic reading of each letter. Following is a series of twenty-six black and white typewritten drawings in which the repetition of a single letter fills up the entire page. Finally, twenty-six slides are sequenced so that each documents the twenty-six weekly rearrangements of a classroom, using the tables to form the letters A to Z.

The video installation A Lecture on Art, lends its title to the entire exhibition and takes up the largest space with its T-shaped presentation. A Lecture on Art borrows and draws from a text written by Oscar Wilde in 1882, that he delivered during his American tour. The transcription of this text, made by Helen Potter, is a phonetic rendering that goes beyond the sheer meaning of words. Potter’s transcript stresses musicality and sound, intonation and elocution, even Wilde’s accent.

Rather than reconstructing, Nelson Henricks fragments his interpretation of Wilde’s work onto four isolated screens, demanding multiple readings from the viewer. Actors / text / sound / set, each component plays a succinct role. Instead of relying on visual unity, an immediate relationship is created between each element through rhythm and sound. Like rhizomes, each of the four parts of the installation are united by a network of complex connections yet without a distinct hierarchy. In order to pass from the world of perception into that of ideas, one must break the apparent unity of the real and decompose it. Only then, when removed from their initial context, can ideas, images and sound foster in a system of associations that can open new parameters of perceptions and reflexions.

Born in Bow Island, Alberta, Nelson Henricks obtained a diploma from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1986. In 1991, he settled in Montreal, where he completed a degree in cinema studies at Concordia University in 1994. Henricks quickly became known for his single-channel videos and video installations, which have been seen around the world. In 2000, the Museum of Modern Art in New York devoted a program to his work in the series Video Viewpoints. In 2002, he received the Canada Council for the Arts Bell Canada Award for Video Art and in 2010 the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery mounted a major retrospective of his work, curated by Steve Reinke, which was accompanied by a publication, Time Will Have Passed Le temps aura passé. Henricks’ work has also been seen in numerous group exhibitions, most recently in the Triennale québécoise at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in 2011 and in Made in Calgary: The 1990s at the Glenbow Museum, Alberta, in 2014. Nelson Henricks teaches video production at Concordia University as well as in other Montreal universities. A Lecture on Art is a project developed as part of his work towards a doctorate in Études et pratiques des arts at UQÀM.

The artist would like to thank the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Association for a Professional Development grant used for the production of the exhibition.

This exhibition was organised for Dazibao by France Choinière, in close collaboration with the artist. We thank the artist for his generous collaboration as well as our members for their support.

Dazibao receives financial support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the Ville de Montréal.