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Song of the Invisible: An Interview with Josée Pellerin

Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist?

Art has always been for me another type of communication and a way of being in the world Very soon, it was a certainty. However, having become a mother at 19, I started a serious practice later. Since the end of the 1980s, my works have been presented at events in Quebec, Canada, the United States, France, Mexico and Japan. A grant holder for creative projects, travel and research residencies, I have also published artist books, produced works for the Web, participated in collective artistic explorations and have been active in artist-run centers, among others. More recently, my experimental videos have won awards at several international online festivals. I live in Montreal where I teach at the School of Visual and Media Arts at the University of Quebec.

What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

My work is a visual production that combines the traditional disciplines of painting and drawing with techniques allowing the serial reproduction of images such as argentic, digital photography, videography and sound recording. The process for this work relies on a method of superimposition: that of overlapping distinct layers, which defines the formal composition, and that of the imagery, which brings together everyday elements and fictional realities.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

I explore and exploit the conventions inherent to photography, reconsidering them as an object to construct. Whether it involves retouching the paper medium, re-photographing the photographs several times, using light projections, adding texts, or montages of videographic collages, these manipulations question the internal manufacturing process of the image, favoring the accidental and allowing me to disrupt their own temporality. The ensemble of these shifts between these avenues furthers a hybrid language in which this cobbling together modality is imposed more as raw material.

The non-decisive moment can be embodied in a material self-presence of the image that underlies the exercise of the gaze, the restoration of seeing. By twist it considerably, it is important for me to bring out the multiple nature of photography and thus forge a unique “aura” for it.

Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you? I like video films close to the visual arts with the relationship to time and duration Chantal Akerman, Bill Viola, Anri Sala. On the movie side world, Paolo Sorrentino, Wim Wenders and Agnès Varda are definitely a big influence for me.

How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

The Covid period has certainly changed the production habits of the film makers. However, this period was saving for many artists and their mental health, inside the realization of film with few means and without promise of diffusion, allowing a greater freedom. Indeed, the future being so uncertain, it became urgent to immerse oneself in art. This resulted in an incredible amount of strong productions. By the way, my short film Song of the invisible, part of your programming, is the result of this pandemic period.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

To be tenacious and focused on the project

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

It depends so much on which part of the world we lived to. The current ecological crisis is becoming a great paradigm shift. Some will ask why make art in such a context?

But I believe that fiction is always appreciated and especially with a poetic axis. Yes, the world needs poetry.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

Moreover, just returning from an artist residency in Fujiyoshida, Japan, some pieces I made during this residency will be exhibited this fall in 2 sites in Montreal, Quebec Canada.


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