Nicole Jolicoeur | 9.1 – 9.15.2009

see video excerpt

Les Langues, running time 3:10 mins.

This whole business of images started when the doctor recommended that I look, and look and look again until I understood something. On his kindly advice, I looked intently at images in order to understand them, amazing images of extraordinary bodies. Images in which one understands nothing. Images of succubi and those possessed by the devil, images of anger and irony, of impersonation and crucifixion, of wonder and possession, images of ecstasy and convulsion.

I looked at the images of bodies that produced the images. Bodies that were simply vulnerable surfaces, presented for photographic recording and dermographical inscription. Public bodies on which floating words had been fixed by hands become cynical through indifference. Words that were no longer read as words but rather as symptoms. A symbolic violence exerted by the intersection of reifying hands and gaze. A risk that is part of the desire to become an image.

Can you believe that I could be held by these images to the point of being almost maternal towards them? I protected them, loved them, took care of them, revived them, cleaned them up and made them speak. I even reintroduced them into the incessant circulation of images. I hear said that images are appropriated, that they are used as citations but never is it said that one takes care of images, that one would like to make up for the abuse and humiliation that they have been subjected to.


Les Langues … 9.1 – 9.15.2009

Atrium Gallery – Western Michigan University


Nicole Jolicoeur was born in the province of Quebec and now lives and works in Montreal. She studied at École des Beaux-arts in Quebec City and at Rutgers University in New Jersey (USA) where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree. From 1972 to 1990, she taught at École des arts visuels of Université Laval and from 1990 to 2007 at École des arts visuels et médiatiques of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

In 1980, she began developing her installation practice using photography and text and now video, which puts into perspective various discourse and contexts concerning the representation of a female subject. She creates spatial settings with reference to fields as diverse as the beginnings of psychiatry, the exploration of the polar regions, anthropology, strolling in the city, Roman Catholic religious iconography and now the operatic duo. Her practice has been built up around the implications relative to how women are represented as well as her interest in the found image, the theatricality of photographic records (more precisely the body of images J. M. Charcot and his followers produced at La Salpêtrière, Paris, at the end of the 19th century), the narrative created by image/text relationships, the performative aspects of self-representation and the use of one’s own voice.

Since 1973, her work has been exhibited in solo, duo and group shows in Quebec, Canada, England, France and the United States, and has been the subject of numerous critical comments published in books, catalogues and periodicals concerned with art. In addition to her photographic installation practice, she has a strong interest in the production and publication of artist’s books, and artist’s projects and writings in art books and magazines. She has made many public presentations of her artwork at symposiums and as lectures.

She has received financial support for her work from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, UQAM and PRIM (Productions Réalisations Indépendantes Montréal).

Her works are in numerous public collections, among them, that of the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée-Château d’Annecy in France, the Canada Council Art Bank, the Université du Québec à Montréal and in private collections as well.

Nicole Jolicoeur – Montréal Québec

14 thoughts on “Nicole Jolicoeur | 9.1 – 9.15.2009

  1. jake March 22, 2010 / 7:21 pm

    the green screen effect is not working for me.

  2. Annalise March 22, 2010 / 7:21 pm

    I find a hard time trying to uncover the meaning behind it, if there is any (not all art has to have some sort of deep message) however I like her modern take on the “story”. Is it a ritualistic look at the roles of the females? In some imagery I like when the background shows, the studio, the environment which she decided to show in this video.

  3. Veronica March 22, 2010 / 7:24 pm

    To me, the video was vague, chaotic, and repetitive. The overlay of the clip overtop the old video was awkward, especially seeing the highlights in her face and fingertips disappear. The studio shots were so different from the old footage it seemed to cheapen the video.

  4. Chelsea Popa March 22, 2010 / 7:25 pm

    This video makes me feel uneasy. The combination of old projected images over top of newer ones makes me interested as well as uncomfortable. At some points it almost seems playful, and others it is very serious and borderline scary.

  5. Kjartan March 22, 2010 / 7:25 pm

    I enjoy the mask. What worked well was the narrators voice, it kept the piece together. I don’t really get what she was trying to say. She used the richness of aesthetic from another culture to make the piece. It was not very interesting nor original.

  6. brooke March 22, 2010 / 7:25 pm

    based on the text with the images, it’s as though she’s comparing herself to the image of this particular body, only as a motherly or protective figure. other than that, i really don’t understand the ideas being presented here. it seems very disjointed to me.

  7. Justin March 22, 2010 / 7:27 pm

    The video interesting as a whole. The old footage was very compelling and interesting. I also enjoyed the comparison of the footage, and the artist in costume. That helped bridge that gap between this sort of “story” and a reality. I did not however like the part where the video was appearing inside the book and behind the artist. I think that if it had been only inside the book it would have worked better for me. I thought that by shaking the book, she was shaking the story into her reality, but when it was visible behind her at the same time, that illusion was stopped for me.

  8. Melissa Warner March 22, 2010 / 7:28 pm

    The jolty movements of the video and the topic of the witch being attacked give me a sense of unease and fear. It makes me think of the Salem Witch Trials and the women attacked and killed during this time due to fear and the lack of knowledge. They were not comforted and they were put on display as if at the front step of a kings palace.

  9. Alex March 22, 2010 / 7:31 pm

    The part i enjoyed the most was when she walked from out of the masked, glared at the camera and stuck our tongue out as well. It seemed to me that she had grown out of that and became something. Alot of the parts where confusing though and scattered.

  10. zac March 22, 2010 / 7:31 pm

    I feel like this person is becoming this story. That this is not just a step inside the reading but a full plunge into becoming this being. The sound worked with the feeling of ecstasy and convulsion and left me convinced that this person is possessed.

  11. Pat Thompson March 22, 2010 / 7:33 pm

    Her idea was hinting at feminism and if I am not mistaken religion as well. Though the video itself is a bit lacking in aesthetics, there were some scenes that were slightly intriguing. The use of layering clips felt a bit too abrupt in the part where she is flipping through the book. On the other hand, when she is standing in side profile with her tongue sticking out, this part feels more refined as it is more subtle.

  12. Nick Arnold March 22, 2010 / 7:33 pm

    I see that she is comparing herself to the figure in the old footage and trying to convey what ever the ritual was to today. However some of the effects used to make this for example the green screen effect cutting off parts of her face is really distracting to the main emphasis of the book with the video feed in it.

  13. katie March 22, 2010 / 7:34 pm

    aesthetically, the piece was distracting. it seemed detached from clip to clip, ultimately making it hard to assemble a theme or idea for the viewer. beyond that, it seemed as though the woman in the video was, in a way, comparing herself to the character in footage being shown. this was made very apparent in one of the final scenes where the two characters stood side by side in profile.

  14. Monica March 22, 2010 / 7:36 pm

    I got the feeling that she was trying to blend the supernatural with the natural world. Her other work has ghost-like and “creepy” tones, so that would make sense. She seems to relate to the witch in this movie, as evident by the comparison overlay of the old and new footage of the witch performance.

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