Bleu Diode, Jean-Yves Fréchette, Sven, Isabelle Gagné
A work by Bleu Diode
Isabelle Gagné and Sven [Bleu diode] had been inspired by the multidisciplinary artist Jean-Yves Fréchette's work for the past 10 years. As a digital art precursor, Fréchette's research is rooted in the practice of performative writing, with a mathematical rigor, through data accumulation and the excavation of expression territories, whether they are technological (twittérature) or not (land art). As a literary man but also a man of measurements and numerical constraints, he defines himself a "textual geolocator".
From the numerous archives collected in recent past years, the duo, whose approach is based on heritage and memory, was laying the foundations of L’Arpenteur.
This hybrid work, digital, installative and performative, explored Fréchette's major works since the beginning of the 1980s. The fluidity between the artistic universes of Bleu diode and Jean-Yves Fréchette was represented by the three spaces involved: the Internet, TOPO's exhibition space in Montreal, and Fréchette's headquarters in Saint-Ubalde, where many of his creations were made and documented.
The trigger for this project was the Agrotexte project, which was celebrating its 40th anniversary is 2022. Jean-Yves Fréchette had had tractors draw the gigantic and minimalist poem "TEXTE TERRE TISSE" (TEXT LAND WEAVES) on the agricultural grounds of Saint-Ubalde. In September 2022, Fréchette became L’Arpenteur and returned to the same land as in 1982 for a performance of connected pedestrian writing, guided by clues sent by mail in the manner of Plis sous pli (1983). The geo-localized data of his cursive lettering walks were extracted and reproduced in an original real-time web work in TOPO's showcase.
The exhibition space was a small-scale theatrical reconstruction of the artist's living environment as well as a multi-screen broadcast booth. Bleu diode offered the visitor a remote view of Fréchette's intimate bubble and of this piece of land transformed by urban development and the agricultural crisis. The window display was also a second performative space in Montreal where the duo intervened to move, add or remove objects, suggesting the passage of L’Arpenteur, though he is in the Portneuf region.
Fréchette questionned the status of 80's sociological art and reactivates a dynamic of textual production that covers a surface of more than 1.6 km. The text is now dematerialized and belongs to the logic of transmission of the Web and GPS. Fréchette was present in the text field in Saint-Ubalde to produce immense texts daily by walking. Rurality, textuality, performance and land art, Fréchette's approach was both festive and digital: it bears witness to the pleasure of writing and tracing signs on a surface.
With L’Arpenteur, Bleu diode revisited the key works of the Centrale textuelle de Saint-Ubalde to restore the importance of Jean-Yves Fréchette's work in contemporary literary, performative and digital practices.
Missed it ?
Jean-Yves Fréchette's walking performance archive from September 9 to October 29, 2022 for this exhibition is available at topo.art/arpenteur.
Photo credit: Luc Girouard