Guest blogger and artist, Michael Asbill shared the impact of Arts Mid-Hudson on making connections available for him to live and collaborate with Quebec artists. Enjoy his reflections on what an artist residency means to a working artist, both in our region and internationally – this is the third of his series.
I am having drinks with friends around the dinner table of Sébastien Pesot. Through rich and casual conversation Sébastien reveals fragments of his past. He describes touring through Europe as a drummer for the punk band Dr Placebo.
He mentions building a composting toilet on his property so that he can host a friend’s performance event. And he tells us about collecting abandoned, dried out Christmas trees in January and burning them for the camera. He brings these same photos to my lenticular workshop at the Sherbrooke artist run center known as Sporobole. The images are elegant and striking. He is curious about animating them with lenticular photography. Sébastien has a confident, mischevious, and friendly demeanor. He is ubiquitous in the Sherbrooke art scene and entirely accessible despite his busy and thriving international art career
Sébastien is primarily a video and performance artist. His work examines the role of the artist in fragmented, humorous and even self-critical ways. His work has evolved away from single channel video into the realm of a real world interface. Sébastien describes his work as “attempting to take the image from the frame of the screen and reinsert[ing] it into the material world, into physical space. Using self-representation and the performing body, his work examines notions of corporality.”
A particularly interesting work that beautifully demonstrates Sébastien’s approach is called “Artist’s Cut-Up.” In this short performance Sébastien presents a jumble of self-representations after the literary “cut-up” technique made popular by William Burroughs. In preparation for the performance Sébastien scrambled his artist statement (in the interest of expanding, exploring, and remaking its meaning). He uses the new text to construct an oral video presentation. His mouth and nose are shot up close as he reads the original statement. The video is chopped up and reordered using the reworked text. During the performance he stands in front of a large print of his artist’s statement. The outsized mouth video is played back on his notepad while it is held over the bottom two thirds of his face. All you can see behind the video mouth, as it speaks in an exaggerated fashion, are his eyes. The artist has become a mute real world avatar standing in front of his own, now nonsensical words of self-promotion, while holding his distorted mouth like a bullhorn over his expressionless face. For anyone who has ever written and re-written an artist’s statement, or even read one, this is certainly a wry commentary on some familiar territory.