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Sep 3, 2012

WPGC 2012 schedule (2012)

The World Portable Gallery Convention 2012 is an international convention on portable galleries and alternative spaces hosted by Eyelevel Gallery during the month of September. The project celebrates the variety of spaces with which curators around the globe have extended public interaction with art institutions.

Opening Reception for WPGC 2012
8pm onwards
Opening Statements:  Michael Eddy, Liz Johnson and Michael McCormack
Performance: Judy Freya Sibayan’s Museum Of Mental Objects
Curator’s Presentation: Paul Hammond and Francesca Tallone
And Then We Party
Description: Join us in celebrating the dawning of a new era where gallery’s roam free and the wine pours like onsens of morning coffees. Paul Hammond and Francesca Tallone will deliver a curator’s presentation on Halifax’s legendary Gallery Deluxe Gallery. Judy Freya Sibayan’s Museum Of Mental Objects will take on it’s newest form, and the main gallery space will be filled with Halifax’s newest portable and alternative galleries. Eyelevel’s first exhibition in our  Member’s Gallery will include work by our very own Fixed Cog Hero, and Liz Johnson, Michael Eddy and Michael McCormack will kick things off with a toast to the WPGC 2012 in Halifax.

Thursday, September 6th

Expose Your Self: Gallery as Performer

7-9pm at the Seahorse Tavern 1665 Argyle Street
Curators Talk and Panel: Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas, Hannah Jickling, Gordon B. Isnor
9:30pm onwards in various locations on Argyle Street
Performance: Media Pack Board, Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas
Description: Running a gallery is one thing, wearing a gallery is another. Enjoy a beverage in Atlantic Canada’s right across from the site of the WTCC, and engage in a panel discussion by three truly mobile galleries; Hannah Jickling’s Coat Of Charms, the Alopecia Gallery (a gallery on Gordon B. Isnor’s face), and Valerie LeBlanc and Daniel Dugas’ Media Pack Board. Following this will be a live performance of Media Pack Board in various locations along Halifax’s busiest nightlife destination Argyle Street. Friday, September 7th
Convention Central

3pm at the HRM North Branch Library 2285 Gottingen Street
Round Table Discussion: Bernard Smith and other special guests.
7pm at 161 Gallon Gallery 
Curators Talk and Reception: Daniel Joyce and Miriam Moren
Description: Halifax is the scenic capital of Nova Scotia and the largest city in the Maritimes. It is famous as a tourist port of call and a cultural and historical hub, despite its ailing economy. Discussions about constructing a new convention centre in the downtown core have cited economic spinoffs and putting the province on the map. This means more visitors, more meeting, more deals, more money…eh? With Halifax as a backdrop, our convention seeks to look at why we gather, and the many different qualities of convening. We invite everyone any anyone to come and share your thoughts in this discussion.

Friday evening will be a chance to wind down at the homegrown gallery of 161 Gallon Gallery. This gallery has existed in the home of Daniel Joyce and Miriam Moren on the corner of Robie and Cunard in Halifax for almost a decade exhibiting works by many of Halifax’s emerging and established contemporary artists. Miriam and Daniel invite the WPGC to their home for a talk and reception of the work of Lukas Pearse in 161 Gallon Gallery.Saturday, September 8th

Eyelevelers vs. Klubbers Softball Match and Portable Gallery Picnic

Noon-3pm at the Olympic Softball Diamond (next to the skate park and the Pavilion in the Halifax Commons)
Description: Eyelevel’s very own softball team The Eyelevelers take on the Khyber Klubbers in a seven inning softball showdown and picnic. SUNSCAD will accompany us with some fun activities, while portable gallery’s roam the Halifax Commons. Sip some homemade lemonade, get yer hot dogs and cracker jacks, while taking in the Coat Of Charms, the Nanomuseum, or the Alopecia Gallery, all while working on evening out that farmers tan!For further information:

CALL: Eyelevel Gallery at (902) 425 6412

WATCH: or watch our live interview on the CTV morning show on Tuesday, September 4th at 7:45am.

Aug 7, 2012

World Portable Gallery Convention (2012)

Valerie LeBlanc and I are bringing the MediaPackBoard to EyeLevel Gallery in Halifax to participate in the WPGC 2012! It’s going to be great ! More to come later, in the meantime, here is the poster.

Jul 8, 2012

Soundbury – Commentaire par Thierry Bissonnette

Thierry Bissonnette

Thierry Bissonnette

Daniel Dugas et Valérie LeBlanc se sont faits chasseurs ­cueilleurs sonores lors de la foire d’art sudburoise. Ces artistes de Moncton ont déambulé parmi les activités de la FAAS 2010 afin de prélever des séquences qui formeraient Soundbury, une collection en ligne de moments audio qui livre leur vision singulière d’une période effervescente sous la forme d’une «cartographie sonore de Sudbury».

Durant douze heures, Dugas et LeBlanc ont promené leurs micros pour capter des moments témoins de leur dialogue silencieux avec une ville et des artistes qui l’animaient. Ces moments sont fortuits, discrets, hétéroclites : un ruban adhésif qui flotte au vent, un tenancier qui réfléchit sur le retour tardif de la neige, un commentaire sur des bonhommes de neige intempestifs, un homme qui fait rouler son chariot sur le pavé de la rue Elgin, un poème énoncé dans une chambre d’hôtel, l’attente près des portes de la galerie d’art, l’essai de guitares dans une boutique… Affichées progressivement sur le site Web et représentées par une photo et une rubrique, ces séquences sonores naviguent entre l’art et le non-art apparents.

L’imaginaire de l’objet, du sujet et du récepteur sont inhérents à ces fragments sonores. Car si Soundbury a fouillé la ville pour y trouver des bouts d’âme, sa structure n’est complétée que par l’auditeur qui s’engage à composer un parcours. Ce faisant, on crée et on explore une ville miniature qui n’existe que dans l’ouïe, le temps d’une visite en diagonale.

Arriving from Moncton, Daniel Dugas and Valerie LeBlanc became hunter-gatherers of sounds during Sudbury’s alternative arts festival. Drawing from their rich background in online projects and exhibitions – he is a poet, she is a professor, and both are videographers – they meandered through the activities of the FAAS 2010 to capture audio clips that would eventually provide raw material for Soundbury, a collection of moments in sound expressing their particular vision of an effervescent time.

Soundbury can now be heard in its entirety on the site Its creators describe it as “a sonic cartography project, an audible image of the city of Sudbury” Over a twelve hour period, Dugas and Leblanc pointed their microphones at key moments that witnessed their silent dialogue with a city that was teeming with artists and writers, but also with the city’s more discrete aspects. This affinity for dialogue is also evident in the title of Daniel Dugas’ book of poetry, Hé!, which had recently been published by Prise de parole. Chance encounters often produce this familiar and fabulous exclamation.

As they brought back a number of short-lived moments, the two artists constructed a mish-mashed intersection that nonetheless bears their signature at its vanishing point. Thirty rubrics, each one introducing one or two sequences, were gradually uploaded onto the site. Today, they can be heard in the reverse order or in a non-numerical order. A visiting ear can wander as it pleases, starting with the final clip where trains pass by in the night, moving on to a moment captured at Peddler’s Pub on Cedar Street, or pausing by a ventilation outlet behind Durham Street, before opening a small window on the performances of Tania Lukin or Thierry Marceau. A strip of adhesive tape flutters in the wind; a tenant reflects on the unseasonal snowfall; someone comments on untimely snowmen; a man pushes a buggy over pavement on Elgin Street; a poem is read in a hotel room; patrons wait outside the art gallery; guitars are strummed in a music store… all these clips, each one represented by a still photo, plot a course between art and apparent non-art. Should a listener be so inclined, more than one clip can be heard simultaneously.

As we sift through this collection, we realize ever more clearly how these brief fragments combine the imagery of their objects, subjects and receivers. Soundbury tunneled into a city to find flecks of its soul, but its structure is not complete until the listener has recomposed its trajectory and created a miniature city that exists only in the vibrations of eardrums and in the moments of a visit in passing.

For a general overview of the experience, visit, where a map indicates all the places where audio samples were obtained. A click on a mark displays the corresponding title and still image, and the audio sequence can be played. The result is an unusual map that can be used to discover downtown Sudbury, thanks to two generous artists from New Brunswick.

Hors Lieux
Une Rétrospective de la foire d’art alternatif de Sudbury 2010,
Français : p 23
English: p 61-62
La Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario

ISBN 978-2-923024-51-6

Feb 14, 2012

Cafe Poet Program (2012)

Good news from Australia and the USA! I have been selected for the Cafe Poet Program from the Australian Poetry for a six months residency at the Marrickville Road Cafe in Sydney. My residency starts on July 1st 2012. I have also been invited by JUiCYHEADS, a New York-based ezine/website, to be one of their poetry columnists. I will be contributing texts to JUiCYHEADS from my Australian project every two weeks for the duration of the residency.


Here is a description of the Cafe Poet Program:
The Cafe Poet Program places poets in cafes as ‘poets in residence’ for a six month period. The poet is given space to write (maybe two or three times a week – in consultation with the cafe) as well as complimentary tea and/or coffee and in return the cafe gets to be part of this community, promotion and the opportunity to plan events with the poet enriching the cultural life of the cafe (and hopefully the number of patrons). The program began at AP in February 2009 and has been a huge success, placing more than twenty poets in cafes all over the country and receiving extensive media coverage. We have also connected cafe poets with various opportunities including working with RMIT media students and being published in the 2009 edition of Blue Dog: Australian Poetry.


Check out the Cafe Poet facebook page 


Marrickville Road Cafe

Agrandir le plan

Jan 27, 2012

Artist Talks (2012)

The following are transcripts of the talks Valerie LeBlanc and  I gave at The New Gallery on January 5th 2012 during the opening of our video installation What We Take With Us.



Thank you to:  everyone at the New Gallery who worked to bring us here and to Tim and Jessica for smoothing out crimps during the actual installation of WHAT WE TAKE WITH US.  Special thanks to Tomas Jonsson, Kathryn Blair and John Snow House Director, Shara Rosko.

For any artist, starting a new year, exhibiting an artwork is the best possible scenario.   The chance to visit Calgary is amazing.  It puts me on the spot, to not only say what I have been doing, but also to evaluate what I have done since leaving the city in 2008.

The chance to show this work in Calgary seems so appropriate as Daniel and I continue to think of Calgary as our second home.  But more than that, the initial planning for the installation began in Calgary, early in 2007 while applying to the University of Sydney to carry out the residency.  Another version of the installation was shown – for one day only, in January 2011 at the Galerie E Dans L’A, in Moncton, New Brunswick where we currently live.  So presenting at The New Gallery completes a cycle of intentions embodied in this work.

Sometimes it seems as if living is about managing points – not the points that have synched with all monetary transactions – but those emergency points that drive us from event to event.  WHAT WE TAKE WITH US wants to step back from the edge to place value.

When I first entered the art world, deconstruction was big.  Anecdotes were frowned upon.  In the classroom and gallery, if storytelling was an employed methodology, it was required to appear only in the most pure, most elemental of symbols.  And yet the idea that everything moves in circles – and that there is nothing new under the sun was also brought forward.  We are fortunate to live and work in a time period when visual and audio collage, in all of its forms has place – and that the specific arrangement of elements, with emphasis on time and space are valued.   Since access to digital tools became both available and affordable to artists and consumers, it facilitated possibilities for creation, communication and for description.  As we are well aware, these same tools are utilized in the constant bombardment of marketing.  That presents a complication of finding meaning in creation that dwells within or moves beyond product placement.  In the immersive environment, we are challenged to captivate imagination, or to lay out elements that offer / share inner experience.

This project was based upon travel, personal exploration of specific geographies but also upon meeting people, chance conversations, and interviews.  In the making of the videos and the creation of a format, it was important for each of us to move past the first level of the experience, to allow events to distil over time through memory and impact.  Through the process of building something in time based art; having a cut and paste-able timeline similar to our own ideas of memory and its very complicated architecture, is modern magic.  If memory is a string of events (pearls) stretched out over time, then creating videos or any artwork can be a way of re-stringing the whole poetry of it.

It would seem that an artwork should always exist between reality and dream / influences and changes that become absorbed.  The video loops projected onto the walls of the gallery, and the soundtracks carried by the corresponding left or right headphones work to create an immersive environment for contemplation.  Those soundtracks, texts and visuals are meant to flow and to interact as the projections loop.   The ‘open sound’ heard upon entering the space creates another element closer to actual experience of travel and interaction with others. One of the topics that came up in the interviews is reconciling the feelings of attachment you feel for a place when you are now there, and how it reverses when you go back and leave the second home.

To speak more generally of my practice, basically, I do 2 things:  I create from within, working through thought process and visceral reality; and I ask (interview) others about what they do.  In that, the best that I hope for is to bring out other voices, and to create a dialogue.  2011 was a busy and productive year – something I always strive for, unusual in the mix, was the gift of reaction to some projects.  In particular, I presented videos in 3 European capitals: DOWNUNDER was curated into the She Devil Exhibition at the MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, Italy.  The She Devil screenings ran from June 25, 2011 – January 8, 2012 in the MACRO’s V-Tunnel.  On November 4 & 5, I presented The Renovation, at the Ruins in 20th Century Art and Literature Conference at the Senate House in London, England.  My 2011 video Paper Moon, Cardboard Sky [1], was screened at the 24th Instants Video at the gallery Le 104, Paris, France.

Those 3 presentations rose were facilitated through Internet connections.  What we have seen demonstrated so well with the Internet is that individuals and communities are no longer only linked to geography or birthright, or even common history.  A sense of belonging can rise from topical common interests and affinities.  The reasons for some of those connections might appear obvious by magnitude, and some, although seemingly banal, might ‘hold more water’ than detected in the real time of the moment.    

As important as visual and sound cues are into positing the space of habitation, writing has become very important for me.  Sometimes, it is in a manner of connecting events and thoughts in as orderly a form as an essay.  And sometimes it is in arranging those same events and thoughts into poetry using visuals, sound and texts.  What We Take With Us takes that form; aiming to float and ground in the memory of connections over time.

Audience / participants should be and are – everywhere.  Everyone has a voice and wants to be heard.  Maybe taking part in what happens in an art gallery creates a necessary pause; that kind of pause that can help us step outside of the daily rush and routine.  A new starting point can arrive unexpectedly.  Recognizing it can become a refreshing experience, like celebrating the beginning of a new year.

In 2012 Valerie LeBlanc will be starting a PhD in the Visual Arts at the University of Sydney in Australia.


[1] Also screened in 2011 as part of OIL, EMMEDIA, Calgary, AB July 12, and at the OK.Quoi?!,Contemporary Arts Festival, Sackville, NB July 28.





We have all seen this: a house on fire, an apartment burning, in the middle of the night.  It could have been a short in the attic, a cigarette in a bed, a curtain too close to a space heater.  The firefighters are there.  It’s cold; the residents are outside looking at their houses, their rooms burning to the ground.  As usual there are journalists reporting on the drama, asking questions, trying to figure out what happened.  Some people step forward and brave the spot light.  They have blankets on their shoulders; they look exhausted, fragile as they speak to the rapidity of the fire, the thickness of the smoke.  As the camera pans onto the charred remains, it becomes obvious to everyone watching that some tenants were lucky to get out in time.  But at the end of the interviews, many of the residents come to the sad conclusion that the photo albums; the memories of a lifetime, did not make it.  There is a pause; most break down at the thought of the disappearing images.

In our visual society or ‘optical civilization’ as Paul Virilio likes to call it, the photo albums, analogue and digital, have transcended their mnemonic status, they have become life itself.  They are what we can and cannot remember.


In 1979, at 18 years old, I hitchhiked across Canada and the USA.  I decided not to bring a camera because I thought that taking pictures might interfere with my ability to remember events.  In New Mexico I got a ride with an ex Korean War veteran who was also an ex Hells’ Angel.  As we crossed the border between New Mexico and Texas I made the mistake of commenting on the beauty of the sky and the sunset.  He said that I should take a photograph.  I told him that I did not have a camera and he became quite agitated.  When we arrived in Amarillo, in the panhandle of Texas, we stopped for a beer.  As I sat at the counter, my driver excused himself to go to the restroom.  I drank my beer, waited a while.  Eventually I realized that he was gone with my backpack.  At that moment, his flash of anger became clear to me.  He was planning to steal my stuff and the loot was definitely lessened by the absence of a camera.  Obviously I survived and made my way home from what was a real interesting trip.  But the absence of physical images, of snapshots, of this wonderful sunset for example, has made room for another kind of narrative; one weaved with invention.  A history more saturated if you will.


I am a videographer and a poet and I am both at the same time.  I don’t see a separation between the two activities.  One informs the other in a Ping-Pong way.  When I was ten, I found a flat stone and I started what was perhaps my first art project.  I drew symbols, scribbled on it; some were like drawings, others like letters. I buried the stone in the woods near my home thinking that archeologists might find it one day.  I was thrilled at the idea and could imagine a team of scientists pondering on the origin of this unknown civilization.  When I think about it today, I think it’s funny, and it is.  It’s funny but it is also ironic and subversive. There is a desire to question the establishment, the world, and the memory of the world as its stand in front and around everything.  I recently did a video series called TABLETS [1], a tongue-in-cheek collection of videos extolling the magical properties of technology.  I think that there is a connection between these videos and that buried stone somewhere in Le Bois du Juvénat in Lévis, Québec.

What We Take With Us is about points of view, about memory and memories, about what is collected, recollected, juxtaposed and ultimately imagined.  It is about image and text, about the relation between text and image, about signs, about perception.  It is also a project that took us on a long circle.

As Valerie mentioned, in 2009 we were invited to take part in a research residency program at the Sydney College for the Arts in Sydney, Australia.  The premise of the project was an exploration of internal and external experiences characteristic to travel and displacement.   We met and interviewed people, collected images and sounds.  Later, it became apparent that each of us had processed the experience of seeing and being differently; with our individual filters.  Faced with the same set of circumstances, we were not seeing the same thing, and not reacting the same way.  When we came back to Canada and began examining the material, it took six months of sifting for the idea of a two-channel video installation to take shape.  We each started to build a distinct program of video-poems to be screened side by side.  A funny thing happened, and we realized this only at the end of the creative process.  Valerie’s program starts with a piece called SAMOA while my program begins with RED.  Even though the programs are looped, these two videos function as metaphorical book ends for the whole project.  RED is an account of the dust storm [2] that blew over Sydney a few days after our arrival on September 23.   SAMOA, on the other end of the shelf, is a video that was inspired by the earthquake and the tsunami that rocked the Samoan Islands on September 29.[3]  After the disaster, many islanders came through Australia to visit with family members.  On the day of our departure, at the airport, October 22, a group of Samoans was going back home.  Valerie noticed the gathering and stopped to listen to the singing.  I was already past the gate and did not witness the scene.

We have worked together for 20 years, on different types of collaborative projects, while also carrying out individual practices.  The degree of collaboration often changes depending on the nature of the project.  Some are totally fused and others, as with What We Take With Us, are hybrids; comprised of discrete elements.  One of our longest collaborative endeavors is probably a Dictionary of Definitions, we have been working on it since 1990 and it is still a work in progress.  When we did our Masters Degrees at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, we were accepted as a collaborative team.  Our project was called Memory Bank and was about memory and fragmentation.  We envisioned a giant mirror ball, a kaleidoscope of life made up of numerous poetic documents.  It was supposed to be a large dome-like structure covered with video monitors, each of them showing a looped clip.  At the time, 1991 – 1993, it was a difficult technical and financial challenge and so the project evolved differently.   We worked on smaller scale two-channel and three-channel video installations instead.  And when I look at this installation, What We Take With Us, I cannot but see some aspects of Memory Bank resurfacing.

But projects are like that, aren’t they; like Russian Dolls, nestled in each other, speaking to each other.  On our way back from Australia, on that long flight back to North America, I started to write about being on the plane, about speed, about slowness, about turbulence, about the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, about the darkness of the night and the few dots of life sprinkled here and there, and about the reassuring smell of coffee floating in the cabin.  These texts are now a book of poetry entitled Au large des objets perdus [4].  It was published in October 2011 at Les Éditions Prise de Parole.

Daniel Dugas
Calgary, January 5, 2012

In July 2012, Daniel Dugas will be starting a six-month residency in Sydney with the Café Poet Program [5] of the Australian Poetry.

Jan 12, 2012

What We Take With Us – TNG (2012)

We just came back from Calgary where our video installation What We Take With Us is being presented at The New Gallery. The opening was on January 5th and the exhibition will continue until February 4th 2012.  We stayed at the John Snow House which is administrated by TNG.  It is an extraordinary place loaded with history.

Thanks to everyone at TNG: Tim, Jessica, Noel, Kathryn, Su, Volunteers – and all who came out to the opening!  Our talks will be posted online next week.


Our installation is also part of This Is My City Festival, an interdisciplinary festival of art from the margins.


Excerpt from the essay written by Tomas Jonsson:

Recurrent waves of colonialism and globalization have smoothed and prescribed our encounters with places. For the traveler, points of difference, or of distinction, are sought after, perhaps increasingly so, or patronizingly handed over. Monuments, historical sites and natural landmarks are increasingly oriented to ‘the amused eye’, which the traveler can then compare and develop a discourse “for the comparative connoisseurship of places.”

In What We Take With Us, Dugas and LeBlanc explore a complicated, contingent terrain, whose borders extend into and circumvent geographies, both physical and social, ‘here’ and ‘away’. Encompassing individual catalysts, personal experiences, mental and body memories, the resulting landscape can’t be easily anticipated or defined.

The videos mimic the internal ordering and filtering of places. Each series of vignettes display a personal vision, reflecting the difference in interpretation even by two people so closely aligned. They follow in Dugas and LeBlanc’s collaborative approach in their production and presentation, but in this case the associations are left to chance due to an unsynched running time. The result is a constantly shifting dialogue between the videos, with unknown permutations and combinations. 

Dec 19, 2011

Hunger / Faim (2011)

Troisième vidéo de la série Tablettes. – Third video from the Tablets series.


A prehistoric man stands alongside of a stream, hoping to catch a fish. Seeing that it is not going well, another caveman approaches to show the fisherman his tablet, demonstrating of a new way of eating.

Un homme préhistorique, debout près d’un ruisseau s’adonne à la pêche, mais sans succès. Un autre homme des cavernes s’approche et lui montre une tablette où apparaît une nouvelle façon de se nourrir.

Actors/Acteurs: Jean-Denis Boudreau, Katie Hunter
Props/accessoires: Valerie LeBlanc

1. Wheels / Roues

2. Rock / Roc

3. Hunger / Faim 


Dec 5, 2011

Rock / Roc (2011)

Voici le deuxième vidéo de la série Tablettes avec Jean-Denis Boudreau et Katie Hunter.

Un homme préhistorique essaie de déplacer une grosse roche sur le flanc d’une montagne. Un autre homme des cavernes s’avance et lui montre sa tablette où les risques d’une telle activité sont mis en évidence.

A prehistoric man is trying to move a large rock on the side of a mountain. Another caveman approaches with his tablet and brings up a safety video highlighting the risks of this activity and suggestions for safer work methods.

Actors/Acteurs: Jean-Denis Boudreau, Katie Hunter
Props/accessoires: Valerie LeBlanc


1 : Wheels / Roues 

2. Rock / Roc

3. Hunger / Faim

Dec 3, 2011

Round Semi Round (1997)

From the vault (detail).

Dec 2, 2011

Sculpture Space – Then and Now 1991 (2011)

JUiCYHEADS celebrates 35 years of Sculpture Space!

Sculpture Space is unique in North America for its support of sculptors, both those who come to Utica, New York, as residency participants and those who continue after their residencies as working artists. The organization selects 20 artists each year for two-month residencies and has helped to advance the careers of more than 500 national and international artists since 1976. A non-profit organization with a 35-year record of success.  For the next few months JUICYHEADS will be featuring work from Sculpture Space artists. Click on a year and their name to experience their work:

Then and Now at Sculpture Space:

I applied to Sculpture Space when I was in residency at the Banff Centre.  My project, THE NEW PANDORA’S BOX was a two-fold installation work.  The first part was a trip around the world, and during the second stage, the Utica residency, I constructed the installation.  I convinced my partner video artist Valerie LeBlanc to accompany me on the trip, to share the adventure.

The entries have been collected from notebooks, reconstructed from past memories and / or from revisiting photos and video taken between December 2, 1990 and January 31, 1991.

Daniel Dugas



That was a big storm, even for Canadians.  And it’s cold and damp.  We are wrapped with scarfs, tuques and mitts, walking slowly in single file in the knee-deep snow of Genesee Street en route to Mr. REDS.  We meet other walkers going up, coming down.  At every encounter we all put one foot in the deepest snow to let the other person pass.  From the air it must look like pirouettes of a silent ballet.  DD


On December 2, 1990, Daniel and I arrived in Utica via greyhound bus during the first snowstorm of the winter.  Although large and fluffy flakes began accumulating during the final miles of the bus ride from Montréal, we could not be held responsible for bringing it south, the Mohawk Valley of Central New York State lies smack in the snowbelt. VL


They are called Appalachians, Adirondacks and sometimes they are said to be linked geographically to the Canadian Laurentians.  In any case, the snow covered mountains and hills there have that familiar purple/grey aura of bare hardwoods nestled in snow.  When winter comes to Utica, it is a Christmas card world straight out of Dickens.  VL


January 11, 1991 – 7 pm, Sculpture Space studio

The radio is on.  Politicians are debating the possibilities of going to war.  The stove is hot and it’s good because there is a big snowstorm outside.  The resonating voices and the radiating heat gets mixed in front of our eyes.  After hours of discussion the senators approved the Senate Joint Resolution.  War is coming.  DD  The Persian Gulf War Resolution


Once the Gulf War started, B52’s made night passes over Utica with the regularity of a milk run.  Off they went from the Rome Air Force base, carrying soldiers and supplies from the start to the finish of the bombing time period.  Meanwhile the debate raged on NPR, and many discussions in the cafés and on buses turned to worries about the threat of a prolonged state of war.  In my heart, I was a visitor to the country, on the streets, I was drawn into the news that made every headline.  The waitress’s father-in-law was called up as a reserve officer, one of the finest mechanics in town.  The car salesman’s daughter was an infantry soldier, he hoped for the best over coffee and eggs.  Generals ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell were all over the television news.  Rehashed and rehashed, tactical victories gave opportunities for veterans to enter the fray.  Old scraps were revisited as the current war played out, and Utica resembled the stage set of The Deer Hunter movie, more and more each day.  VL


We got a small apartment on 939 Schuyler St.  It’s not big but as Jonathan (Kirk) pointed out “it’s cozy”.  There’s a hot plate and a toaster but the two can never be powered at the same time, as it will create a short.  And we will have to ask the owner to change the fuse.  The shower is also ‘unique’; it‘s perfect for anyone under 5 feet.   But, best of all are the trains.  It was worth taking the apartment.  The first time we saw it, we heard a loud sound and then another one, louder, closer.  We opened the curtains in a hurry to witness a freight train in all of its glory coming down the middle of the street right under our balcony.  You could almost reach out and shake hands with the Conductor!  DD


Having lived for five years in Kingston, Ontario, as a kid, I was somewhat familiar with the cultural environment of Central and Upper New York State – from television of course.  As I sat glued to the T.V., I was storing up a range of programming highlights from Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Watertown, Ithaca, Utica and all points in-between.  Cartoons and black and white re-run movies started airing very early in the morning.  On weekends and holidays, I woke up early to soak it all in.

Upper New York State was a far cry from what I expected to find in the Big Apple, and yet different from what I had come to know in Canada.  With television as my window to the world: life down south in the United States of America, I knew that the hot dogs were bigger, more red; there was a bigger variety of candies; and dime store specialty gifts were more affordable.

All of those years later, as an adult, visiting Sculpture Space brought me to the actual source of some of those cultural icons already familiar to me.  I knew before arriving that bowling had been VERY big in Utica.  I personally felt that one of the most interesting programs on T.V. was the Sunday bowling.  Far from boring, the soothing voice of the announcer whispered the step by step action, building the tension of each player’s profile and emphasizing the high (monetary) stakes involved in winning the tournament.  And there were Utica Club Beer ads!  The jingle of the tournaments’ sponsor came back to me when I stood in the train yard outside the still-active Utica Club brewery.  The factory, with its high chimneys and the oversized letters’ sign towered high above street level, lending a larger than life silhouette to the Utica skyline.  VL


Storefronts are fascinating.  They are markers of time, documenting life. In the few weeks since our arrival, we have noticed a lot of wig stores and wonder why.  It seems that every block has one.  Styrofoam heads with curly blond or long black hair resting on shelves, looking out all day long at people going by.  Somewhere downtown, between two wig stores, we saw an abandoned shoe store.  The front window is still offering a dazzling display of boxes sitting on pedestals.  Everything is coated with a layer of dust, 3 years thick at least.  It looks like the tomb of some great Egyptian ruler.  There are also wedding dress storefronts.  Today we stopped in front of one and took pictures.  DD


When I walked on the street in Utica, a million story ideas appeared in my mind.  Every turn of the corner brought a unique storefront, café or colourful local character.  I had travelled all my life but was struck by the rich character of this city. For some reason, each encounter with a store clerk or conversation on the bus, seemed to present a string of other possible outcomes, all of them mysteries.

One day, after being spooked out by passing the darkest of abandoned parkades, I looked into a store window to see a perfectly arranged shoe display of the finest leather shoes.  Signs indicated the qualities of the particular brands carried and looking past the window box, in-store displays, and stacks of shoeboxes resembled a neatly organized library, complete with a sliding ladder to reach all of the available sizes.  It was definitely a very classy shoe store.

The only quirk about the place was that it was abandoned, and all of the fashions were 1940’s styles.  There was a thick layer of dust everywhere and everything was faded.  It looked as it the owners had just disappeared into thin air, leaving not a trace, and yet, in this city with a vibrant, animated street scene, no one and nothing had disturbed that shop.  I had often thought about the fact that Rod Serling, the science fiction writer of the television series The Twilight Zone had lived in Binghampton, a short distance from Utica.  When I thought about some shows from the series, I began to feel that the science fiction reality of his stories were hovering just below the surface here in Utica.  VL


The wood stove at Sculpture Space is incredible.  It is a colossus object that looks like nothing else on earth.  It is the source of heat for the whole studio, the beating heart that allows residents to carry on.  When we arrived, in early December, Sylvia de Swann showed us the cords of wood outside and said, “Use as much as you need”.  We did.  DD


Music all day, music all night!  We all brought our favorite cassettes, but it’s Tracy (Brown) who has the biggest collection.  We listen pêle-mêle to: Voivod; John Cale; the grinders and the saws; The Red Hot Chile Peppers; Sinead O’Connor; the MIG welder; Bad Brains; NPR; hammers and cutters; all flowing and bouncing freely, helping us to concentrate and to create.    DD


And in Utica there was Sculpture Space, that extremely well equipped and highly accommodating support for sculptors.  After a few days, I felt inspired to do a documentary about it.  I began to shoot possible cutaways.  I carried out preliminary interviews with Daniel, and the other artists currently in residence:  Tracy Brown, and Charlie Citron.

WUTR, Channel 2, the local television station supplying a percentage of local programming was located on top of Smith Hill in Deerfield, but its official address was Utica. I got dropped off outside of the station one morning to meet with the Programming Director.  Unfortunately, the weight of the impending war was thick in the air and the meeting was brief.  If war was declared, all programming would need to focus on that event.  Peaceful cultural concerns would be moved to the back burner.  I started down the hill to catch the bus, with not much hope for moving the documentary ahead.  That was when my real problems arose.

The walk back down was through a remote section of landscape with not much around but the dogs.  It seemed that everyone had already left for work and no cars passed me by either way.  I would not have cared except the walk was close to two miles and each abandoned home or farm had at least one dog.  I quickly developed a life-saving strategies.  Looking to the edges of the snow-covered road, I filled my pockets with as many rocks as I could find.  As the first of two beagles raced toward me from their driveway, I began throwing rocks.  No one was hit or injured but they got the message quickly and doubled back home yelping in defeat.  Whew!  There were two more encounters and then I used the ‘black bear strategy’ of lifting my black leather coat up high over my head.  On both of the other encounters, I charged toward the dogs yelling as loud as I could.  Unbelievably, it worked.  By the time I got to the bottom of the hill and found the bus stop, a german shepherd in his yard  started to run for the driveway, miracle of miracles, that owner was home and yelled for the dog to get back in the house.  I returned to Sculpture Space without a strong prospect for the documentary but I had a few stories to tell.  My own war to return went well.  VL


We needed a good coffee, something strong like an espresso.  We went out, looking for some.  After a little while, we saw in a window display, an espresso machine and some little Italian flags in coffee cups!  There was also a very small sign with the magic word Café above the door.  Despite the sign, the coffee machine and the flags, this place didn’t really look like a Café or a restaurant.  There was something private, secret about it.  Guided by our addiction, we opened the door.  It was quiet.  We saw a long counter and two little red enamel tables.  We looked at each other full of hope.  As we slowly made our way in, a man showed up and glared at us.  There was something Boris Karloff about him, something in his demeanor that was telling us that this might not be the right place.  But nevertheless we had found the place, we were in, and we were thirsty, there was no way back.   We risked, “We’ll have two espressos?”  There was a slight pause, a silence, and then the man pointed to one of the tables.  We sat down.  There was no music playing, no flowers on the table.  He was already behind the counter working.  We could feel his gaze.  The smell of the coffee started to take over.  After he put the cups in front of us, we paid him.  He pocketed the money and disappeared behind a curtain at the end of the counter.  Then, all of a sudden we heard a flurry of other voices, two or three other men.  They were speaking, yelling in Italian, swearing in English, the energy was on the angry side to say the least.  It felt weird being there.  We hoped that they were not talking about us.   We drank our espresso in a hurry, put a fifty-cent on the table and left.  As we stepped outside, we could feel the adrenaline rushing in our veins, it felt pretty good.   DD

After Sculpture Space Daniel Dugas and Valerie LeBlanc moved to Chicago where they did each their Master of Fine Arts Degrees at the School of the Art Institute.  They each continue to carry out individual creative projects and collaborations.  Social and political aspects of the world, as well as the technological changes that continue to augment reality are the pivots on which their practices revolve.  At the heart of their activities resides the desire to establish a rapport between what is experienced and what is imagined; the ideas that emerge to see the light of day, and those that remain below.  The underpinning motivation is to move communication forward.

Daniel’s website:

Valerie’s website:
4 short videos YouTube


Daniel H. Dugas

Artiste numérique, poète et musicien, Daniel H. Dugas a participé à des expositions individuelles et de groupe ainsi qu’à plusieurs festivals et événements de poésie en Amérique du Nord, en Europe, au Mexique et en Australie. Videopoésie / Videopoetry, coécrit avec Valerie LeBlanc, vient de paraître aux éditions Small Walker Press.

Daniel H. Dugas is a poet, musician, and videographer. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions as well as festivals and literary events in North America, Europe, Mexico, and Australia. His eleventh book of poetry, co-written with Valerie LeBlanc, Videopoésie / Videopoetry has just been published by the Small Walker Press.

Date: April 2020
Genre: Vidéopoésie/Videopoetry

Videopoetry / Vidéopoésie

Small Walker Press



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