Luc Bourdon

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Video still from <b>Touei</b> by Luc Bourdon

Luc Bourdon, Touei, (1985), 4:24 min.

Video still from <b>The Story of Feniks and Abdullah</b> by Luc Bourdon

Luc Bourdon, The Story of Feniks and Abdullah, (1988), 5:39 min. excerpt from the 18:00 min. original

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About these works

Touei (1985)
Distributed by Vidéographe.

Webster Lake, summer 1984, in late afternoon. A naked baby smiles as he plays; a young couple quietly relaxes. Behind them, the surface of a lake shimmers. Almost motionless, behind a window, the woman touches her stomach. From the water emerges the head of the child. The woman sighs twice. The dream dims as the lake becomes quiet. The couple remains still; the child looks at them and smiles. Touei, as translated from a Chinese trigram of the I Ching, signifies the serene, the joyous, the lake. The video features an original soundtrack by Jean Décarie. (adapted English translation from Vidéographe online catalogue)

Gentle and intimate, Touei recalls a private moment of memory for Bourdon, touching and elegiac. Touei was a prizewinner at New York's Experimental Film and Video Festival (1985).

The Story of Feniks and Abdullah (1988)
Distributed by Vidéographe.

This video-poem was adapted from A Lover's Discourse: Fragments by Roland Barthes and traces a man's actions as he awaits his lover in an unfamiliar city.
To pass the time, he visits the Botanical Gardens and the zoo, lingers over coffee, and wanders through Chinatown. He becomes a tourist, but everything around him seems unreal and only reminds him again of his forced wait. "I'm waiting for you in places where you don't want to go. I love you where you don't exist."

Bourdon presents Vancouver as a city ideal for waiting, for longing, with its rippled ponds and distant mountains, sublime light and delicate air at the edge of the continent, made for introspection and a green silence. The city is both welcoming and foreign. These unspoken thoughts are printed letter by letter onscreen as his camera drifts and speculates, thoughtful and responsive to landscape and passersby. Finally, The Story of Feniks and Abdullah is a poignant letter for an unnamed woman, a letter-in-a-bottle seeking its intended harbour.

Produced for the Artist in Residence Program at The Western Front artist-run centre in Vancouver, The Story of Feniks and Abdullah was named Best Video Drama at the 12th Atlanta Film and Video Festival, and awarded the Alcan Prize for best video at the 17th Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and Video. It also won an award in the Video Letter Exchange at the 11th Tokyo Video Festival and an honourable mention in the New Vision category at San Francisco International Film Festival's Golden Gate Awards Competition.

About Luc Bourdon

The wide-ranging video works of Luc Bourdon draw on notions of memory and history, linking text and image through rhythmical editing. Distance (1984), for example, is a brief and elegant work about departure, the freedom of the open road. Reverse letter of the same year is a video essay on city life, a love letter. Bourdon's experimental works tend to be poetic glimpses, reflections of sensation. A longer piece is the twenty-minute Plan de fuite/Flight Plan (1995), entirely without dialogue, centering on a woman's decision to leave the city in order to confront herself and find new challenges, leaving her passive mate at his computer. In the end, however, the ideas of this separated couple begin to intersect, images replacing words.

Since 1974, Bourdon has completed over fifty works, presented primarily in festivals and on television both in Canada and abroad. His highly regarded documentaries have often been portraits of fellow artists. Question de bande (1998), for example, show Montrealers Josette Bélanger, Jeanne Crépeau, Daniel Dion, Charles Guilbert and Serge Murphy, Nelson Henricks, Katherine Liberovskaya, Robert Morin, Marc Paradis, and Suzanne Vachon as they talk about video and the people involved in its creation. In other cases he has worked with visitors to film festivals in Montreal to create new pieces. During his visit to Montreal in 1986, actor Eddie Constantine (Lemmy Constantine, 1993) talks about the different eras of cinema he has known. Constantine tells anecdotes on the art of "playing for the camera" while working with directors Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Jean-Luc Godard, for whom he played the famous role of Lemme Caution in Alphaville (1965). In Hommage (1993) Bourdon profiles Serge Daney, co-editor of the influential film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, founder of Trafic, a quarterly film magazine, and columnist and television critic for the daily newspaper Libération in Paris. Through Daney's writings and interviews with his friends, an eloquent portrait emerges.

In 2000, Bourdon completed De la parole aux actes, a 53-minute documentary on one hundred years of theatre as related by actors, directors, and critics in Canada. In A mille lieux of 1992, Montreal artists including Luc Courchesne, François Girard, and Neam Cathod re-evaluate the video installation format. Theatre and dance works have also been sources, as in Full House (1987), with three choreographies from the O Vertigo Company (Montreal) with Ginette Laurin, and Le cercle vicieux/Vicious Circle (1986), a performance by the mime, choreographer, and dancer Dulcinée Langefelder. From 1984, Entre la pagie et la manique, looks at the work of the writer and performance artist Luc Caron, one of the artists in the eclectic group exhibition Entre la magie et la panique at the Musée d'art contemporain in Montreal, which considered the "magic" of technology as a buffer against the "panic" of everyday routine. As Bourdon has noted, "[F]or the videographic eye, it is an occasion to take a little trip through words, images, and sounds" (Vidéographe online catalogue). His most recent documentary is La Grande Bibliothèque (2005) on the construction, installation and opening of Quebec's spectacular new library in Montreal.

He has worked between formats as well, as in Schème video/Video scheme (1984) done in collaboration with Marc Paradis. Described as a "docu-fiction," the work centres on Claude Chamberlan and Cinéma Parallèle in Montreal, questioning film's customary "star system" through a recognition of dissident cinema, to find the artists' own stories. Bourdon has added new material to an otherwise "standard" documentary format, to create a hybrid that raises issues and challenges ideas that are closer to his own heart as an artist. The following year Bourdon and Paradis completed Say Cheese for a Trans-Canadian Look, another docu-fiction, as they worked with artist Simon Robert to select a program of Canadian video for Montreal's International Festival of New Cinema and Video. Traveling across the country, they review issues raised by Schème vidéo, using a random capturing of images to reflect their perceptions.

Winner of the 1998 Bell Canada Award in Video Art, Luc Bourdon's works include fiction and documentary, essays and experimental pieces, installations and reporting, as well as production and broadcasting. Shown on television in both Canada and abroad, his works have been presented throughout North and South America, Europe and Japan. As well as screenings at festivals in Montreal and Toronto, his works have been featured at numerous international festivals, including the London Film Festival, San Francisco Video Festival, World Wide Video Festival in The Hague, Videonale in Bonn, VideoFest in Berlin, Bienal Arte Video in Medellin (Colombia), Progetto Leonardo in Milan, and the Japan 89 Video Television Festival in Tokyo. The Story of Feniks and Abdullah (1988), Touei (1985) and Distance (1984) have all won prizes.

He has also exhibited in museums and galleries including in Circonvolutions at Museo de Arte Alvar y Carmen T. Carillo Gil (Mexico City) and as a part of New Canadian Narrative and Selections from the Video Study Collection: A Survey of Innovative Works from 1972 to Present at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A retrospective of his work, Past and Present: Video by Luc Bourdon was presented at Video In, Vancouver.

Bourdon has sat on the boards of Vidéographe, Galerie Oboro, Cinéma Parallèle, and film festivals in Montreal over the years, supporting independent video production and dissemination. For several years he was executive director of the Festival international du nouveau Cinéma et des nouveaux Médias de Montréal, and he is now teaching at the Université de Montréal. He has also taught video at Concordia University and Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, and film at the National Theatre School of Canada.


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