Chris Kennedy

“Jan Peacock: Using Clouds as Words.“ March 21, 2012

Jan Peacock: Using Clouds for Words

“All of her work has a writerly quality, leading us to become “readers” of ideas and emotions, listeners to both text and subtext. Her reliance on quotation and elegiac insistence on memory give her work its interior life and sense of intimacy.” — Peggy Gale

“Video is where I can work with shapes of time—language events, sound events, image events—building a space that seems recognizable to us because it’s television, because people spend so much time looking at that box.” — Jan Peacock

Jan Peacock is one of Canada’s most important video artists, as her honouring by this year’s Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts vividly attests. Through both her thirty-year practice and her long-time role as a teacher of Intermedia at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Peacock’s work has influenced and guided successive generations of artists in their explorations of the video medium. She is a pioneer of video installation in Canada (many of the works being shown in this programme are single-channel “versions” of installations usually involving multiple screens) and often conceives of her work as open texts, allowing the medium’s memory-like permeability to allow for future revision, addition and reflection.

This programme is a short survey of selections from Peacock’s oeuvre of over twenty video works and installations. Her early video, California Freeze-Out, made while a graduate student at UC San Diego and included in the influential California Video show curated by Kathy Rae Huffman for the1980 Paris Biennial, sets the stage for many of Peacock’s concerns. In it, and in many subsequent videos, we find the emotional immeasurability of distance—looking longingly at the space between here and there—and the importance of touch: the artist’s hands are a common subject and motif in her work, which heightens the sense of tactility in the video image. Her videos also frequently address the importance of memory, especially in relationship to the fragility of life. Wallace & Theresa memorializes her friend Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, an artist and writer whose life was cut brutally short, and (Bliss) (Dread) is an important piece that was made during the maelstrom of the AIDS epidemic.

Bystander, Canada, 2009, 1.5 min. video
California Freeze-Out, Canada, 1980, 16.5 min. video
This Walk, These Steps, Canada, 1995, 5 min. video
Wallace & Theresa, Canada, 1985, 8.5 min. video
therethere, Canada, 2009, 6 min. video
Reader by the Window, Canada, 1993, 16 min. video
Current Details, Canada, 2003, 5 min. video
(Bliss) (Dread) The Road Rises to Meet You, Canada, 1987, 6.5 min. video
Soaring with Dogs, Canada, 2008, 6 min. video

Screening preceded by a looped version of touch 1.0 (2012).

Jan Peacock in person.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 7 p.m.