Raymond Gervais — Finir


Installation, performance, mixed media

Raymond Gervais

Past: April 11 → May 25, 2012

Written like a score, the installation places Debussy and Beckett in dialogue, re-staging them towards the end of their creative process, at the point when they were respectively asking themselves how they should finish, wondering about the possible failure of their production, and therefore wondering “how” and “what to do” — because finishing still entails doing something. The fact that Beckett was an amateur pianist who liked to play certain pieces by Debussy, the fact they both lived in Paris and are also both buried there, and their concern over finishing a work, and, more importantly, the fact that Raymond Gervais had previously pursued separate projects on the two artists who are finally united in this piece, are just some of the elements making up this sober staging which Gervais names a “poetics of finishing”. Taking certain lines from one of the last texts Beckett wrote, Stirrings Still (1988) (“Oh all to end”), and the title of his last poem “What is the word” (1989), and Debussy’s last three sonatas, imagined yet never composed (Sonatas No. 4, 5 and 6), to produce both concrete and figurative resonances between the two approaches, Raymond Gervais left any possible ending or completion pending by accomplishing an artistic gesture which is itself located somewhere between being and non-being.

Jacinto Lageira

A major artist on the Canadian art scene, Raymond Gervais’s practice inscribes itself within the main trends in contemporary art and current artistic production through its ties with conceptual and performance art and the exploration of sound. He has carried out an activity in writing, related to art and music, and to his own work.

Raymond Gervais has been creating installations and performances in the visual arts field since 1973, and one area of interest, among others, has been phonography and music by artists. From his earlier sound-related work, he has moved towards a primarily silent form of work since 1990 (’visual’ sound having prevailed ever since). In 1976, he presents a first installation with a series of turntables: 12+1=. In 1980, he took part in the 11th Paris Biennale, with an audio-visual piece incorporating a series of metronomes and electronic tuners. 1986 marked the beginning of his exploration of the aural imaginary, with a first piece which makes reference to Claude Debussy — Les concerts de l’imaginaire — followed by a second installation in 1989, also in connection with the composer — Claude Debussy regarde l’Amérique — exhibited at the 49th Parallel in New York. Various characters punctuate Raymond Gervais’s art practice (Henri Rousseau, Helen Keller, Virginia Woolf, Guglielmo Marconi…), including Samuel Beckett, as early as 1989, with his first work focusing on the writer and musician, titled Samuel Beckett Piano Solo (Les Disques Oboro) , followed by other works referencing the writer in 1990, 1995 and 2006. In 2001, he curated Phono Photo, a group show on the interconnections between records and photography. From 2007 to 2012 he collaborated with the curator Nicole Gingras on various projects: a book of interviews (Puisqu’à toute fin correspond) and a two-part exhibition coinciding with the publication of a book, Raymond Gervais 3×1, presented by the Leonard and Bina Ellen gallery at Concordia University (Fall 2011), and the VOX Center in Montreal (Fall 2012).

In 2010, he was awarded the Ozias Leduc Prize from the Fondation Émile Nelligan. His works have incorporated the collections of the major museums in Canada as well as private collections.

  • Opening Wednesday, April 11, 2012 6 PM → 10 PM
  • Performance de Frédéric Fisbach Performance Wednesday, April 11, 2012 7:30 PM → 8:30 PM
  • Rencontre avec Raymond Gervais, Jacinto Lageira et Franck Leibovici Meeting Wednesday, April 18, 2012 7:30 PM → 9 PM
  • Performance de Sylvain Chauveau Performance Wednesday, May 9, 2012 7:30 PM → 9 PM
  • Performance Remy Héritier Performance Friday, May 25, 2012 7:30 PM → 9 PM
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The artist

  • Raymond Gervais