The last decade has seen a paradigm shift in the Canadian photobooks industry. Largely state-funded, the production of books in the field of visual arts has long been viewed from the perspective of career development and as a promotional tool that allows the artist to shine and disseminate their work well beyond an exhibition. Even if this utilitarian vision of art book production persists and continues
to offer historically rich monographic publications, many artists now choose to give the book a role that goes beyond being the mere container of their work. In this photobook approach, the series of images is not enough: the relationship between a book and the work it presents is central. The book becomes an independent entity, signifying through itself the meaning received by the reader, sometimes even transcending what the photographs may express by themselves. The book, for these artists, has become the work itself. They have become its author.
This transition from a conceptually utilitarian book to one that, both in its design and its sequential structure, claims to be a work of art in its own right, is not necessarily unique to Canada. However, the specificities of the Canadian territory have favored certain modes of production and have participated in the development of a scene with its own issues and challenges. Whether it is the immensity of the territory, the linguistic issue specific to the Quebec region, the proximity of the United States and the distance that separates Canada from Europe, the Canadian photobook is striving to find its place on the international scene.
At PWA 2022, artist and publisher Louis Perreault will present a selection of photographic books by Canadian artists who use the specificity of the book to deploy the photographic work they are producing. While some of the books on display are self-published, others have been produced in collaboration with independent publishers or artist-run centers. Drawing on his various experiences as an publisher (of his own books and those of his colleagues that he published at Éditions du Renard, a publishing platform that he initiated in 2012), Perreault will provide an hands-on appreciation of the realities of the Canadian publishing world, while opening a broader discussion about the book as a medium of creation and about the logistic, economic and artistic challenges of its practices.
Louis Perreault is an artist, writer and curator in the field of photography, and a maker and publisher of photobooks. In his artistic practice, he seek to visually translate what is intangible in our relationship with places. His photographic projects usually unfold around a central image that becomes the anchor of his reflection and his visual proposition.
Louis Perreault wishes to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for its financial support in carrying out this International outreach effort.