Replaying Narrative

Narrative is the subject of major reconsideration in the visual arts today. Photography and video, together, have become a critical field of narrative exploration and one of its finest laboratories. Around the theme Replaying Narrative, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 2007 proposes to examine this phenomenon in all its breadth through a series of more than 30 solo exhibitions highlighting the various ways of rethinking the narrativity of the image.

This renewed interest in narrativity touches on several aspects of the image and can take various forms. While the special status of reality in photography has long been the topic of debate, the growing recourse to staging events – which augments the many possibilities of digital composition, technological developments, and computer-assisted image creation – is contributing to a major shift in photography’s relationship to reality and the transformation the image’s narrative potential. Borrowings from film, mass media, and communications networks also contribute to broadening narrative possibilities, while at the same time proposing new critical perspectives on the way images are used and on the power they have. The 10th presentation of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal will also broach a specific, recent development: taking up and revisiting existing narrative models, the likely reason many artists are attracted to cinema.

The replay of an image, film, or narrative framework implies both a reconsideration of these models and the emergence of new experiences. Such a re-examination also brings attention to photography’s testimonial function. One cannot tell a story without conjuring up the human side of the narrative and the image, their relationship to life, to the past, to memory, and to history. This reconfiguration of narrativity is also intrinsically linked to the question of time, whose limits many artists are constantly pushing back to form more complex, non-linear and fragmentary narratives that function by association, by assembly or disassembly, and more abstract narratives, exploring movement, pace, duration, real time, simultaneity, repetition, and circularity. These experiences of time are
supple and fluid and allow narratives to exist elsewhere than within chronological temporal sequences. They construct — and sometimes deconstruct — a cinematic sense of suspense, creating situations of expectancy and anticipation that pull the strings of narrativity and baffle our perceptions.

The 10th presentation of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal will demonstrate how playing with narrativity leads both to an exploration of narrative and to a reexamination of its modus operandi.


Marie Fraser