Raymond Boisjoly

1981, Canada (the Haida Nation ) ; lives and works in Vancouver

Screens, scanners, printers: apparatus through which words and imagery pass and shed their material substance as they are deformed. As an indigenous artist of Haida and Québécois descent, Raymond Boisjoly invites us to think about how we regard the processes which transmit and receive information —processes which construct culture, in the broad sense. He connects this circulation of signs to the fluctuating contexts through which the state of Indigeneity is negotiated. At the Frac Bretagne, the photographs titled Something like a name, Like some things have names, Like some things don’t have names, from the series (And) Other Echoes (2013) are placed at the hub of these issues. Behind a sheet of tinted plexiglass which makes already dark images even more opaque, silhouettes are traced in domestic and urban spaces. These images, whose surface is also disturbed by iridescent waves, have been created by putting an iPad flat on a scanner, while it was broadcasting Kent McKenzie’s film The Exiles. Produced in 1961, this feature film follows a group of young Native Americans in Los Angeles, from nightfall to dawn. Having left their reservations, they express their desires and thoughts about belonging, place, community, and the future. To the exile treated by the film is added, here, the effect of distortion caused by the time lapse between the two technologies of diffusion and capture, between movement and static image. R. Boisjoly thus points to indigenous existence as an at once engaged and withdrawn condition, calling for simultaneous action in different physical and symbolic spaces.
This line of thinking is continued with Between and Beyond (2018), a new installation produced for the Musée des beaux-arts. The artist is interested in what is commonly regarded as incompatible or at odds. The idea, for example, of clashing colors, like red and purple, and in a general way what he singles out as: “the coercive nature of language, the feelings it can cause, what it can cause us to think of and get people to do”. In Haida language, the expression which describes these discordances also has a pejorative use describing the continent’s inhabitants (the Haida lands are islands). Taking the counterpoint of this language of the irreconcilable, R. Boisjoly freely develops a red and purple text on the gallery walls, as if the introductory essays for the exhibitions had freed themselves in a shrill non-conformity. Altered by xerographic procedures, then reproduced in vinyl letters, the words hide their message, “contained like a ghostly presence, an absent motivator”. Incoherent language creates imagery and thus becomes a possibility: “Its focus has been moved, erasing a boundary and inviting another level of reading”.

Frac Bretagne

Something with a name

Like some things have names

Like some things don’t have names

from the series

(And) Other Echoes, 2013

Lightjet prints face mounted to gray-tinted acrylic glass, vynil lettering
Courtesy of the artist and Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver
With the support of the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris.

Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

Between and Beyond, 2018

Vynil lettering
Courtesy of the artist and Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver.
Production Les Ateliers de Rennes – 2018