This exhibition explores the intersection between contemporary art, temporal relations and paranormal research. In Le passé est un pays étranger, Latour presents two dimensional and three dimensional work to see how the « past » is mediated through texts, images and vintage objects. Le test de la chaise invites viewers to test their own precognitive abilities through an interactive installation based on a paranormal exam from the twentieth-century.

I. Le passé est un pays étranger

John Latour presents 20 text-based and photographic works, as well as two sculptures in this portion of the exhibition.

Text-based works:
This series of works on paper derive from two literary sources: Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some pages of these gothic novels have been taken out of their bindings and erasing techniques were applied to each. Using white paint to mask words or passages, new stories emerge from the remaining words. Presented in period picture frames, they resemble edifying currency although their new meaning remain ambiguous.

Photographic works:
Specks of white paint cover old portraits or snapshots of anonymous persons that lived from the 1920s to the 1950s. This project refers to the inevitable disappearance of the subjects, over time.

Since 2000, Latour has been using period found objects in his sculptural practice. Making minor or major adjustments to these objects, he transforms them in a way that evokes both the human presence and its absence. For Le passé est un pays étranger, Latour presents a sculpted chair he produced in 2002, as well as a 2009 sculpture entitled Le visiteur.
This second artwork has never been previously exhibited. Here is a short description:

At the centre of this sculpture is a large eight-legged wooden table. This table, a found object, is suspended and surrounded by eight other period found objects. Each element is attached to one of the table’s legs by a metal cable (or a thread). As with the table, each one of the eight objects is suspended in the air. The weight of the table is equal to the weight of the group of other objects. In this perspective, the sculpture is floating in equilibrium.

Le visiteur comprises three elements traditionally associated with psychic séances: a levitating table, small objects that float in the air, and a weak and inexplicable musical soundtrack. The artwork integrates a ten-minute minimalist soundtrack, which was created using a musical recording of the early 20s. The original song was modified and is no longer recognisable.

II. Le test de la chaise
This participatory work invites the visitors to test their ability to predict the future through art. In a traditional “test de la chaise”, a person randomly selects a chair in a group of chairs that were going to be required for an upcoming public event. This person is then invited to describe the person that will be occupying this particular chair during the public event. For this exhibit, the test was modified and simplified. Participants are invited to site in the armchair and describe the next person that will sit in it. This person will also answer a few questions about his or herself, as well as pertaining to the following and unknown person. The paper form provides space for drawing the person’s own portrait, and a second space to draw the next sitter. Afterwards, each participant is invited to write the date and time of their contribution and to pin the sheet of paper onto the gallery wall. The public will consequently be able to see and compare all the filled out questionnaires, in chronological order, and assess how well the participants predicted the future.

The artist wishes to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for its financial support.

You are cordially invited to attend artist John Latour’s lecture on Saturday, February 20 at 2:00 pm. The artist will look back on his work over the past few years and on the gallery exhibition.


Photo credits : Tanya St-Pierre