Martin Beauregard – Montreal, Quebec.
March 13 – April 18, 2009
Curated for PAVED Arts by David LaRiviere
Martin Beauregard investigates the possible overlap between factual and fictional stories. The formal propositions that he develops – videographic and photographic – explore the terrain where biographical fiction and documentary become confused. For example, Soapoperation (2005) is taken from a stay in a hospital in Bordeaux, where he had surgery in March 2004. It presents a scene shot on the operating table and a conversation with his lover when he awoke from anaesthesia in a romantic “soap opera” style; life is released through an image, a snapshot, a fictional plot traced almost on reality. The video Playing with Deady Daddy also presents “truth and play-acting,” shot during his father’s funeral – August 13, 2003 – where relatives gathered, paid tribute to the deceased, and saw and touched him for the last time. Beauregard rehearsed this contact with his deceased father lying in his coffin for the camera, as if he were performing repeated takes for a scene in a movie.
“It sometimes happens that by seeing a place, maybe even briefly, one feels swept away, in the ambiance of past cinematographic experiences; as if the souvenir of a film echoes in our environment, and that the real allows traces of the scenes or landscapes seen in movies. DRIVE END confronts the cowboy legend, as produced by the cinema industry, with the modest life of my grandfather, an eighty-seven year old man. I asked him to play on a cinematographic setting. I tried to grasp on film the gaze of this old man, his life slowly fading, as if it was the end of a road movie. He gave me the face of a man who had never given in to despondency, like the characters of Nobody (Clint Eastwood) or a Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda), in the films by Sergio Leone and other spaghetti western movies. Drive end is a Vanitas of an American dream, a Momento mori, as in the picture we can see: an abandoned Drive-In and a car cemetery.”
For his project DRIVE END, Beauregard will produce a series of 10 photographs that contrast the mythic figure of the cowboy – produced by the movie industry – with the modest life of an 88-year-old man (his grandfather). The old man is photographed in a car junkyard and an abandoned drive-in.
Martin Beauregard lives and works in Montréal. He is a graduate of the École des Beaux-arts de Bordeaux in France (2004). His work has been presented in solo exhibitions in Canada and abroad, including at L’œil de poisson (Quebec City), Location One (New York), and Tin Box (Bordeaux), and in group shows, including CAPC Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux (Bordeaux), Luxe Gallery (New York), and Asahi Art Square (Tokyo). He is currently studying for his doctorate at the Université du Québec à Montréal and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris.
Drive-End As A Point Of Departure by David LaRiviere
The “finality of death” is a casual, everyday concept that is nevertheless bound up in a nihilistic perspective, one that presupposes a “meaning” for life that inscribes an essential human ego or “soul” at the centre of existence. Such garden variety metaphysics depreciate existence insofar as it becomes necessary to generate a spate of transcendental truth claims to sustain this totemic “meaning” in the face of a universe that is in a constant state of becoming. Nietzsche challenges this central notion to pop-psychology by first suggesting that we humans actually live many deaths, and further that death itself is a festival which produces a multiplicity of new directions.
The current exhibition at PAVED Arts embodies a heterogeneous invocation of various and intertwined endings related to the cinema, pop-cultural phenomena and, last but not least, social relationships (including family). There are at least three pronounced endings that occur within Martin Beauregard’s “Drive-End” project. The first blatant ending that is invoked relates to our aforementioned mortality, the end of life, which is embodied by the casting selection of the artist’s own grandfather to play the protagonist. Death comes to be reflected in the face of our grandparents. If our parents represent authority, the first application of the law, then surely our grandparents represent mortality insofar as the aging body and genetic resemblance forecast our own twilight years. Of course, this ending moves from the specific to the general, or the personal to the cultural, just as the representation of the grandparent operates in the codes that are circulated through the mass media, quite independent of the multitude of variations that apply to any given individual experience. The second ending applies to the genre that is identified in Beauregard’s images: the spaghetti western. Clint Eastwood’s most recent film “Grand Torino” develops a parallel, if overly sentimental meta-text– namely that with the passing of this character there also passes a certain construction of the old west, and of a period of film-making. The “western” will return of course, but as with the eternal return it will always return as difference, never to be the same again. Beauregard excavates the spaghetti western both in terms of the formal, panoramic properties of his series, and for the ambiguity that Sergio Leone introduced to the genre. As with the Good, Bad and Ugly in Leone’s cinema, there is little to pick between the three in Beauregard’s own gray-hat construction. The third ending is perhaps the ending that causes the highest degree of anxiety: the end of the oil age. The abandoned, derelict automobile is an artifact of the American dream as it relates to suburbia, and to some extent the urban sprawl that grips our cities. For example, the Drive-End image that currently graces the PAVED Arts billboard space actually operates on all three levels in quite a profound way. Here in Saskatoon who would deny that driving culture is rampant, and in a belligerent state of denial about the looming end of the oil age. As with many western cities that occupy the very same frontier, and where much of the urban planning was undertaken well into the age of the automobile, Saskatoon is spread out with a butter knife, rife with rectangular front lawns and two-car garages that reflect an over-blown and short-sighted sense of prosperity. Drive-End confronts such disparate notions of ending and produces from them aesthetic and ethical possibilities that can only erupt from departure.