« Impressions of Characters »
Introduction to the Print Media program students
Published in Lucky 7 Chanceux, MFA students publication, Concordia University.

A few months ago, I heard tell of a man who went out only at night. He walked the city streets when the moon was full.

Standing on his doorstep, before setting out, he had no idea which way he would go. He never drew up an itinerary in advance; he stepped into the night, filled with curiosity. He knew the moon was always there, overhead, its glow rivalling that of the city lights, and when it appeared momentarily between the tall buildings, he did not even look at it. He wandered on.

His gait evoked the work of the printmaker. I was told he was heavy footed–or rather that he had one heavy foot, which struck the sidewalk more loudly than the other. It was as if an enormous weight was attached to it, and with each awkward stride, as his foot came into slow, regular contact with the ground, the pressure left a mark on the pavement, and on him as well. This constant raising and lowering demanded patient, diligent effort. Though his pace was constant, no two excursions were ever exactly alike. He could recall every walk; every moon was imprinted in his memory. Each one had left a trace, an impression, an image.

His territory was vast and teeming with strangers who superimposed their steps upon his, covering them without ever erasing them. In streets where he had walked before, he didn’t need to see the impression of his footsteps to know that he had been there. And he knew, each time he returned home, that he would begin all over again, in accordance with something greater than himself. His wish: to inhabit the madness of others, to follow the rules they invented for themselves. His madness required him to go out at night and wander under the full moon.

This man has become a somewhat improbable character, one invented in bits and pieces, who exists only for the sake of an image. He is the type of character we are compelled to follow, in order to study his manner and get to know how he thinks. Following him does not mean taking the same route, but letting ourselves be convinced to mark out our own.

I have observed something of this character in artists, each of whom follows a singular path. Betino Assa traces forms that others do not see in the landscape; something is always just about to happen in his imaginary scenes. If Jacquelin Heichert briefly follows strangers to try and understand their trajectories, she changes her mind, without really knowing why, and turns back. Over time, Hayat Najm accumulates inventories of unforgettable happiness and tragedy. Often, it is the objects she picks up that bear traces of her memories. Shawn Reynar, too, documents the conditions of his experience, reacting equally to the extraordinary and the banal. From his window, he observes the motifs of the present, recalling that everything boils down to perception. You might chance upon Erin C. Smith in the scenes she represents, for she returns to them regularly. She often leaves home to explore empty refuges where the traces of past presences are preserved. The trajectories Matthew Thomson follows are never completely finished, for he often sets off again from where he has arrived. He prefers to re-see, rewrite, and reconstruct than to find himself at a new point of departure. The voyages of Étienne Tremblay-Tardif are made in a sometimes recent and sometimes distant past. Upon his return, he makes use of found relics to construct imaginary routes. In his workroom, Anthony Vrakotas assigns himself potentially exhausting tasks. He could take shortcuts, but he prefers to take the steepest paths.

These artist-characters, whose paths lie by turns far apart and close together, sometimes find themselves in the same place. As they continue to go out and wander, they will repeat old actions and invent new ones. Their activities will carry on, be superimposed on each other, sometimes making common cause. They will be inscribed in an immeasurable time and space. And there, you will find impressions of characters.

This stroller and his story were inspired by François Morelli and his series Moon Walks.