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Secrets of Trade. Goldin+Senneby on magic, finance and art market predictions


Goldin+Senneby, Zero Magic, 2016. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery

Goldin+Senneby use strategies and tools inspired by the financial sector to dissect the late-capitalist system, interrogate its mythologies and expose its connections with areas as diverse as virtual identities, precarious labour in the art sector or even alchemy. Goldin+Senneby is “a framework for collaboration”, its projects often use the skills and knowledge of experts in the fields they are investigating. These collaborators might be computer engineers, magicians, economists, anthropologists or playwrights.

The NOME gallery in Berlin has recently opened a solo show of the artists duo. Titled Secrets of Trade, the exhibition presents key works from Goldin+Senneby’s recent interrogations of financial trading, the art market, and artificial intelligence.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the works in the show:


Goldin+Senneby, Art Aligns With Young Readers, 2017. From the series Force Directed Predictions


Goldin+Senneby, Force Directed Predictions. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery

Correlation maps generated by algorithms trained on art market data (Force Directed Predictions). The maps visualize art price fluctuations as they relate to macro political and economic factors such as employment rates and literacy. One shows only positive correlations and the other only negative correlations.


Goldin+Senneby, Zero Magic, 2016. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery

For Zero Magic, the artist duo infiltrated a secretive hedge fund in the US, reverse engineered its methods and recreated its short selling practices. This practice consists in selling shares that one does not own to buy it back once it has fallen in price, netting a profit in the process. Which sounds pretty baffling for someone like me. Indeed there’s something akin to magic here. It’s about ‘adjusting’ people’s perception of reality, making them see things that do not exist. It doesn’t take place on a stage though but in the more secretive context of the financial markets.

In collaboration with the magician Malin Nilsson and finance sociologist Théo Bourgeron, Goldin+Senneby developed and patented a magic trick for the financial markets that has the capacity to undermine the perceived value of a publicly traded company and to profit from this. The magic gimmick consists in a computer program that help non-experts identify suitable short selling targets, and a step-by-step guide to undermining their perceived value and executing thus a successful short sale. Goldin+Senneby put the Zero Magic computer software inside a magic box that also contains a US Patent Application for Computer Assisted Magic Trick Executed in the Financial Markets and four historical examples of magic tricks played out offstage, in real life.

Nilsson will be performing a magic demonstration on the last night of the exhibition


Goldin+Senneby, Momentum Trading Strategy. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery


Goldin+Senneby, Momentum Trading Strategy. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery

Goldin+Senneby acquired a series of confidential trading strategies in exchange for artworks. These ‘tricks of the trade’ are bound in files and sealed in glass boxes. The content remain a mystery to the viewer, only cover illustrations by designer Johan Hjerpe might give us a clue since they visually interpret the main dynamics of the strategies.


Goldin+Senneby, Banca Rotta (Central Europe, Late Baroque, oak), 2012/2017. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery

There’s also an antique money changers’ table broken in two. The piece of furniture is a visual representation of the etymology of “bankruptcy”, which derives from banca rotta, the Italian word for broken bench, the bench that moneylenders worked from and that had to be broken when they were no longer in business.

I’ve written time and time again about Goldin+Senneby‘s work. But i’ve never met them. Nor have i ever had the chance to fire a few questions at them. Until now:

Hi Goldin+Senneby! To be honest with you, I’m a bit worried about this interview. While preparing it, i read a story in rhizome that says: “In previous interviews the artists have responded to questions about the project exclusively in the form of quotes from its various parts. For the interview below, however, they produced some new statements, perhaps mindful of the opportunity to recycle them in future incarnations of Headless.” Is that a strategy you have kept on using since that 2009 rhizome interview?

No. This was one of our strategies used in the Headless project – an eight year long performance (2007-2015) staging an “act of withdrawal”.

Goldin+Senneby works with people who sometimes have rather surprising profiles: a magician, an investment banker, an academic social scientist, a patent attorney, an anthropologist, etc. How do you work with them? How much say do they have in the process that leads to a final work?

We try to produce situations in which our (willing and unwilling) collaborators can “act as themselves”. We think of our practice as a distribution of agency within authored frameworks. The clearer the frame we are able to provide, the more agency can be handed over.

Attaching a slide from a “progress report” produced by management consultant Aliceson Robinson in 2011, where she interviewed 12 individuals who had played key roles in our project The Nordenskiöld Model (2010-2017), but notably not ourselves.


Progress Report

The show at NOME Gallery will feature the magic demonstration Acid Money. Could you tell us what will happen? Will it feature the magic trick for the financial markets that you patented?

Yes, the magic demonstration will feature our trick for the financial markets (patent pending) and how we appropriated the methods for this trick from a secretive hedge fund. It will also offer an opportunity to bring some magic with you home!

One of the works you will be showing at the Berlin gallery is Force Directed Predictions. From what i gathered online, the series is based on a system that uses big data and AI to predict art prices. Do algorithms really play such a key role when it comes to predicting art prices? How did we get there?

In the context of a gallery show we were interested in the possibility of offering art market predictions as artworks. So on one level the idea is straightforward: to offer meta-data about collecting to collectors.

And because the learning process of the AI we are working with looks at art price fluctuations in relation to a wide range of macro political and economic indicators (10k+ correlating factors) it also produces portraits of the kind of society in which the art market thrives or declines respectively.

These works are the beginning of a longer process. We are collaborating with XLabs.ai and one of their artificial intelligences that has been surprisingly good at predicting “black swan” events in other areas (such as unexpected civil unrest, large jumps in commodity prices, etc). When we got into contact with XLabs, they were just about to discontinue the use of this AI, since they were disillusioned with their customer base – the only customers that were able and willing to pay for these kinds of predictions were either hedge funds or authoritarian states, and they were not interested in selling their services to either of these categories.

So you figured out how to predict art prices, how to use magic and patents to perform financial manipulations…. Why do you feel that you need to bring this knowledge into the art world? That’s very generous of course but if i were you, i’d use all those tricks and know-how to get ultra rich and ultra idle.

In this sense we are not sure that we are bringing anything to the art world that isn’t already there. Clearly, much of the art sector is bound up with the “ultra rich and ultra idle”, as you put it. For us an important question is how to deal with this position of implication.


Goldin+Senneby. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery


Goldin+Senneby, VWAP Mean Reversion Strategy with Professor Donald MacKenzie and Philip Grant, 2013. Exhibition view at Nome Gallery

Your practice mixes objects with creative forms such as theater, magic and literary fiction. In general, i find that many of your works are quite ‘brainy’. They are fascinating and easy to get drawn into but they require time and attention from the audience to fully engage with them. Is that part of a plan to request effort from the audience? Or is it because the complexity of topics such as financial operations or the art market requires that we observe/reflect upon them with care?

In times of financialization, speed and acceleration have been distinct features. But we are slow. We work for years on the same project. And this slowness produces certain contradictions that we value.

One of our long-term collaborators, playwright Pamela Carter, drew our attention to how, in physical comedy, it’s a rule that you slow the action down … just a little … just enough to give the audience time to see the joke fully … and then laugh.

Thanks Goldin+Senneby!

Goldin+Senneby‘s solo show, Secrets of Trade, remains open until 9 June 2018 at the NOME gallery in Berlin. The magic demonstration Acid Money will take place as part of the exhibition on 9 June 2018 at 7.30 pm.

Previous stories featuring Goldin+Senneby: Artefact festival: Magic and politics, Art Turning Left: How Values Changed Making 1789-2013, Artissima 2013 – From Philospher’s stone to tomato crops, Feedforward. The Angel of History. Part 2: Globalization and agency.

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/secrets-of-trade-goldinsenneby-on-magic-finance-and-art-market-predictions/

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Net Worth Voyeur Time ($818,204.91 // +$16,000) and Our New Brokerage Account!

Net Worth Voyeur Time ($818,204.91 // +$16,000) and Our New Brokerage Account!

net worth - april, 2018

Time for ye ol’ net worth updating again!

And just like last month, it was a pretty juicy one for us this time around too – only much more fun than making IRA mistakes and playing the bitcoin game 😉

For the first time in 15 years, we finally have a traditional brokerage account again! WOO!! And what a difference all those years have made with our mindset:

brokerage account tweet

(Of course I had to tweet it in real-time as blogging is too slow these days 😉 So be sure you’re following me to get up-to-the-minute news and nonsense! –> @BudgetsAreSexy)

So yeah – dropped $50k right into it last week, and you can probably guess where it all went 😉 I’ll give you a clue – it rhymes with Wanguard, and it got invested into Mindex funds, haha…

So why now? Three reasons:

  1. We finally had enough of staring at all our extra cash reserves, and it was beginning to feel unproductive
  2. We couldn’t use it to max out our Roth IRAs this year because of our higher incomes
  3. It was finally time to DIVERSIFY our tax accounts more, because it’s probably not a good idea to have 100% of your investments locked away in them… at least if you truly want to “retire early” one day 🙂 (Though of course, you still have Conversion Ladders and other strategies you can utilize – which I refer to Mad Fientist on who’s a master at this: How to Access Retirement Funds Early)

And of course because I’m obsessed with index funds, we poured it all into VTSAX which required zero ounces of thought – as designed.

I’ll probably use this account to tweak holdings over time and maybe diversify our index funds as well (you know, with bonds, international, etc), but for now we got it going, so I’m calling it a win in the “more well-rounded” department. Which only took us 15 years to get comfortable with again 😉

(And to be honest, I’m still a bit nervous about it, which is strange since we have over 10x this amount in our retirement accounts which are invested in the EXACT SAME FUND??, but I’m chalking it up to just being new and different for us, so hopefully it all subsides… We can always cash it back out whenever we want/need it, right? With much less hubbub?)

At any rate, that’s the major news over here this month! No baby yet, but should be any day/hour/minute now! It’s gotta come out some time, right??

Here’s How April’s Money Broke Down:

[These reports are shared every month to keep things transparent, and to start great conversations around money in our lives. Sometimes we’re up, and sometimes we’re down, but whatever the case, we disclose it all and hopes it helps with your journey too. Welcome to net worth update #124!]

CASH SAVINGS (-$42,514.66): A big drop as we move out a chunk of cash into the new brokerage account just mentioned, as well as another clump into my SEP IRA to max it out for the year. Which thankfully we *were* able to do unlike our Roth IRAs because we earned “too much” last year – womp womp… We also got a decent amount back during tax filing too, which is why we only went down $40,000 here instead of $60,000.

SPAVINGS FUND! (+$629.92): Another great increase this month! This time due to cash back rewards with our USAA credit card, cancellation of our HBO subscription which now nets us $15.00/month (though very tempted to go back with the premiere of West World again!!), some reimbursements checks, and a bunch of other smaller cash findings we quickly stashed before it all went out the door again… Because as the saying goes, “if it’s not saved, it’s spent!” And if that’s not a saying yet, well, we’re making it one today! Spread it far and wide, people!!

(More info on the “Spavings” idea here)

THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN (TSP) (+$586.78): Up and up it goes, the more my wife works! And the beauty of 9-5s is that it should continue to do so even while NOT working and on maternity leave, due to using up vacation and sick days and what not. Benefits us self-employed schmucks lose out on 😉 So yay for employers! They’re not always so horrible!

*NEW* BROKERAGE! (+$50,105.83): Best fake increase right there, haha…. Though we have already earned $105 since dumping our money in – much more than the $0.05 we would have leaving it in the savings account 🙂 Of course, we still have a healthy chunk there for emergencies and other future opportunities, but it’s always a balancing act with this stuff, and you do your best to align everything with your goals and comfort levels… Not every last dollar needs to be optimized, but you do want it to be a *conscious* choice that best fits your lifestyle!

ROTH IRAs (+$504.35): Another nice uptick here as well! With obviously no deposits on our end as we were so rudely denied from investing in these for the tax year 😉

SEP IRA (+$7,843.39): A bit better here as we maxed out our account for the year, but we’ll see what the market has in store for us with all these ups and downs going on… Here’s a snapshot of how our Vanguard accounts have progressed since switching over to them close to four years ago:

vanguard returns

(Just like with our new brokerage account, all money here is invested in VTSAX as well – Vanguard’s “Total Stock Market Index Fund” – Admiral Shares version (fewer fees, but you need at least $10,000 invested to move into, vs their “Investor Shares” account (VTSMX) which only requires $3,000))

CAR VALUES (-$658.00): Nothing too crazy going on here, other than we lowered our “condition” a bit for each car just to stay more conservative… OH! And we decided to wait on our minivan too until my wife’s car dies out! Turns out we can (barely) squeeze three car seats into my SUV, so for now we’re going that route until absolutely necessary 🙂 The thought of car shopping with a newborn is just not exciting at ALL right now, haha… Or apparently the 9 months leading up to now either!

Here’s the value of our two cars per KBB.com:

  • Lexus RX350: $9,111.00
  • Toyota Corolla: $2,818.00

Total change in net worth this month: +$16,497.61!

And here’s how the past 12 months have gone to put things in even more perspective:

net worth 12 months

Some stalls over the past few months, but as to be expected when a bulk of your money is tied in the markets… At least we’re able to scoop up funds cheaper these days! And fortunately when we opened up that new account I believe the market had crashed by 500 pts that day… Which I’m sure subliminally got me to finally act 😉

Oh, and here’s how our kids’ net worths are going as well… Which they have no idea about yet, and which we’re keeping a secret until they’re old enough to log on and read these reports (which will be super weird, haha…)

baby net worths

And that’s April! How did you guys do?? Anyone cross the million dollar mark? Or multi-million?

In “life” news which we now like to add here, it’s been pretty low key…

  1. Waiting for baby to arrive
  2. Waiting for baby to arrive
  3. Playing with my coin collection as I wait for the baby to arrive
  4. Playing with my other babies while I wait for the baby to arrive
  5. Sleeping as much as I can while waiting for the baby to arrive 🙂

It really is unnerving not knowing when – or *where* – it’ll finally make its appearance, haha… I swear every day I wake up it’s going to be The Day!

But I guess he/she’s not done cooking yet… And yes – I’m purposely keeping the sex a secret from you because it’s the only one I’ve got left!! You get everything else from me!!

Hope everything in your life and finances is going well 🙂 MAY your blessings be as bountiful as your incomes this month!

Your (im)patiently waiting friend,

j. money signature

 

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Curatorial Activism. Fighting sexism, racism, homo/lesbophobia and western-centrism one exhibition at a time

Curatorial Activism. Towards an Ethics of Curating by Curator and arts writer Maura Reilly. Forewords by Lucy R. Lippard.

It’s on amazon UK and USA.

Publisher Thames & Hudson writes: Despite decades of postcolonial, feminist, anti-racist and queer activism and theorizing, the art world continues to exclude ‘Other’ artists – those who are women, of colour and LGBTQ. Indeed, the more closely one examines the numbers, the more glaring it becomes that white, Euro-American, heterosexual, privileged and, above all, male artists continue to dominate the art world. The fight for gender and race equality continues apace.


Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, Never Mind Pollock, 2009

It’s 2018 and the art world is still suffering from an over-representation of white, straight, male artists. Stats (when and where they exist) show signs of marginal improvement, but there’s no denying that old values and canons have never ceased to dominate museums, collections and auction houses at the expense of female, LGTBQ and non-white and non-Western artists.

Curatorial Activism provides us with much needed moments of self-reflection and institutional critique. In her book, Maura Reilly looks into details at the pioneering exhibitions that have bravely challenged assumptions and leveled hierarchies. She also discusses the most successful tactics for addressing inequality, charting their potential, their flaws and the difficult questions they raise: how do you avoid ghettoizing the work of Other artists? How do you give more space to non-Western artists who don’t think they should have to ‘display their identity’? How do you ensure visibility to LGTB artists who don’t want to be identified solely on the basis of their sexual orientation?

One thing this book explains eloquently is that progresses are too often followed by setbacks. One of the many examples explored in the book looks at how, in 2008, the Centre Pompidou in Paris consigned to storage most of its works by male artists and ­rehung its permanent collection to show only works by women. The elles@centrepompidou initiative didn’t encounter a massive critical success and a year after it, the works by male artists were hung again while the ones by women went back to oblivion.


Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Two Planets: Renoir’s Ball at the Moulin de la Galette and the Thai Villagers, 2008


Guerrilla Girls, Is it even worse in Europe?, 2016. Photo: David Parry/PA Wire

Although Curatorial Activism targets mostly curators, its content is relevant to anyone with some interest in the art world: Reilly urges museum to diversify their boards; holds private galleries responsible for perpetuating discriminatory practices; exhorts critics to draw attention to disparities and invites artists and marginalized people to make trouble and speak up. The rest of us should relentlessly question the art standards devised by white men for white men. We all have a role to play.

An easy thing to do would be to seek out and visit “alternative” art spaces that fill the void left by mainstream institutions. Reilly mentions the Studio Museum in Harlem. I’m thinking of Autograph APB located at Rivington Place in London. I try to visit their shows whenever i’m in town. Not because i’m explicitly seeking out ‘otherness’ but because their photography program is really good. Until we’ve achieved equality, the work of these organizations will remain invaluable.

Making the the art world more inclusive is an important endeavour. It feels particularly urgent today, in this general climate of reactionary and conservative politics, with a male white supremacist at the head of the US and with a Europe that seems intent on closing its borders to foreign influences.

Here’s a very short list of works i’ve discovered or re-discovered in the book:


James Luna, The Artifact Piece, 1986-1990

In 1986, Native American artist James Luna “installed’ himself in an exhibition case in the San Diego Museum of Man in a section on the Kumeyaay Indians, who once inhabited San Diego County. His performance challenged the way contemporary American museums have presented his people and culture as essentially extinct and vanished. He performed the piece in several cultural institutions.


Catherine Opie, Self-Portrait/Cutting, 1993

One of my favourite art interventions in the whole art history is Fred Wilson‘s Mining the Museum back in 1992 at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. I like it so much that instead of a photo i’m copy/pasting below a video from a presentation he made a couple of years ago at the V&A in London:

A change of heart – Fred Wilson’s impact on museums


Mary Kelly, Post-Partum Document: Introduction, 1973


Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Vittorio Scarpatti, 1989


Miwa Yanagi, Yuka, from the My Grandmother series, 2000


Alfredo Jaar, La géographie, ça sert d’abord à faire la guerre, 1989


Wangechi Mutu, The End of Carrying All, 2015


General Idea (Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal and AA Bronson), Baby Makes 3, 1984-1989


Tariq Alvi, The Importance of Hanging, 2008

Inside the book:

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/curatorial-activism-towards-an-ethics-of-curating/

Take This 2-Minute Financial Assessment!

Take This 2-Minute Financial Assessment!

I have a spreadsheet for that - t-shirt

I saw someone re-share this old quiz we had featured here in the past, and thought it would make for a fun re-posting and seeing how we’ve changed over the years 🙂

If you remember this from back in the day, re-take it and see if you’re doing better now! If this is the first time you’re seeing it, take it too and then see how it makes you feel afterwards.

Depending on how you answer, it’ll mean you’re either a Warren Buffett, MC Hammer, or Macaulay Culkin, haha… At least according to CO-OPCreditUnions.org who devised this fun little ditty.

Here we go…. Answer “Always”, “Sometimes,” or “Never” for each of the following statements, and then see below for the answer key. Come on Warren Buffett, come on Warren Buffett!!

The “2-Minute Financial Assessment”

#1. I pay my bills on time.

Always! One of the only things in our life we have control over…

#2. I save 10% or more of my income each month.

Always! Though I do it at the end of the *year* usually vs monthly, but only because I’m self-employed and never know what the year will have in store… I much prefer Dollar Cost Averaging!

#3. I keep three months net income in a “rainy-day fund.”

Sometimes. This last year we’ve had a bit TOO much stashed away, but the three years prior we were definitely on the Struggle Train. I give anyone mad respect for being able to say they *always* have a cushion here! It’s not easy to do!

#4. I plan ahead and save for large expenses.

Never. This is one of my weaknesses, haha… Two years ago it looks like I put down “Sometimes”, but I’m pretty sure I was kidding myself 😉 I just can’t ever wrap my head around the future! It’s always changing!

#5. I set and keep financial goals for myself on a regular basis.

Sometimes. I only have ONE main financial goal every year – to max out my retirement accounts. Anything outside of that is extra, and since most times there is nothing much else to invest/save, it usually stops at that 🙂 So I do technically make finance goals, but since they’re always the same one year after year I don’t think it counts all the way…

#6. I follow a set budget each month.

Not anymore! Haha… Net Worth tracking is the new budgeting – didn’t you hear??? 😉

#7. I shop around and compare prices before making a major purchase.

I Always do this… Sometimes to my own annoyance when you should just pick something that’s 80% good and not waste 13 and 1/2 hours trying to save myself $0.50, ugh… Using the honey button at least speeds it up while *online* shopping.

#8. Regularly check my credit report.

Haha, yes. But only because it’s always right in front of me when I log onto USAA or get emails from Credit Karma about my score every month 🙂 I tend not to dwell on it too much if I’m not in the market to take on new debt anytime soon… (and I’ve also got it to where I want it to be –  in the 800’s – so I’m out of that “let’s improve our credit score” stage. Something I highly advise focusing on if you haven’t already so you don’t have to worry about it anymore either!)

#9. I examine my checking account statements each month.

Always. And credit score statements, business account statements, savings, investments, retirement accounts, 529s, net worth reports and even my snazzy coin collection. Never know when one of those guys will get up and sneak away on you! I pay attention to all my monies!!

#10. I look for ways to become more financially aware and educated on a regular basis.

PS: If you don’t answer “Always” on this I’ll know you don’t read my blog every day 😉

*******

How’d you do?? Mostly good? Some trouble spots here and there?

Well if you got a majority of them good you’re channeling Warren Buffett up in here, half or more points in your favor will make you MC Hammer, and then if you REALLY failed the assessment you’re a Macaulay Culkin, haha… Why, I don’t know, (Home Alone was da bomb!) but I’m not in charge of such things 😉

Answer key:

(2 points for every “Always”, 1 point for ever “Sometimes”, 0 points for each “Never”)

  • 15 points and up = Warren Buffett!
  • 10 to 14 points = MC Hammer (I feel like he should be last? Didn’t he go bankrupt??)
  • 9 or less points = Macaulay Culkin

It looks like I’ve fallen from Warren Buffett to MC Hammer over the past two years!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

macaulay culkin scream gif

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Original posting of this, with my (apparently better) answers, here: Could You Pass This $$$ Quiz? If you were around in 2016, check out the comment section and see how you compare too!

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Michel Campeau. Life Before Digital


Anonyme, Easter Greetings, about 1955. Collection de Michel Campeau

While in Montreal for a series of panels curated by HOLO magazine for the digital festival MUTEK, i felt the need (as i often do) to take a break from discussions about digital creativity. That’s how i ended up visiting the Michel Campeau retrospective at the McCord Museum. The title of the show was promising: Michel Campeau. Life Before Digital.

I wasn’t disappointed. Campeau is a wonderfully talented photographer with a strong interest for the history of photography and in particular the disappearance of analog tools and practices. Each of the series in the exhibition explores a material culture that used to suggest magic and craftmanship: the messy darkrooms with duct tape to fend off the light and wooden pegs to hang the images to dry; the colourful rolls of photo film and the iconic camera models; the amateur developer who gave way to the computer pixel specialist, etc.


Man in bow tie with woman looking at slide, c. 1955 (2015.) Series “Red Border Kodachrome”

Campeau’s homage to silver-based photography culture has a whiff of nostalgia but it’s one that’s never mushy nor mournful. The retrospective presents works executed between 2005 and 2017 as well as anonymous, amateur photographs from the 1950s and 60s. Shown together these images build a very moving, poetic and sometimes even humorous portrait of the rituals of pre-digital photography.


Industrial Splendour and Fetishism: The Bruce Anderson Collection. Sylvania Superflash Blue Dot 25 Flashbulb, Montreal Quebec, c. 1950. Photo via Eric Dupont gallery


Industrial Splendour and Fetishism : The Bruce Anderson Collection. Flash Canon, Tokyo, Japan / Flash Leitz, Wetzlar, Allemagne, c. 1950. Photo via Eric Dupont gallery


Industrial Splendour and Fetishism : The Bruce Anderson Collection. Sinclair Traveller Una, London, England, 1927. Photo via Eric Dupont gallery


Exhibition view of Michel Campeau. Life Before Digital. Photo: McCord Museum

Industrial Splendour and Fetishism are black room portraits of iconic cameras and accessories of the pre-digital era. The instruments look cumbersome, have a bit of a worn-out air but they remain beautifully engineered objects.


Exhibition view of Michel Campeau. Life Before Digital. Photo: McCord Museum


Brussels, Belgium, file no. 9845. Series “Darkroom”, 2005-2010


From the series “Darkroom”, 2005-2010

The Darkrooms is another tribute to analogue photography, this time focusing on spaces that are disappearing fast.

Campeau talks in details about the series in an interview with Ciel Variable. I like the following quote:

“One of the criticisms of the series is that I focused on the dilapidation and decrepitude of the places I photographed. I don’t see things this way; a very large part of the history of photography took place in similar places, and not in antiseptic digital laboratories.”

Other series in the exhibition establish Campeau as a keen collector of ‘found photography’:


Anonymous, Four Color Postcard [détail], about 1960. Collection of Michel Campeau


Anonymous, Four Color Postcard [détail], about 1960. Collection of Michel Campeau

The Monstreal-based artist hunted down colour postcards from the 1950s to the 1970s that show a person taking a photo. He then enlarged the detail featuring the photographer so as to lay bare the four-colour printing process.


Rudolph Edse, Autoportrait, about 1955. Collection of Michel Campeau


Rudolph Edse, An involuntary autobiography, about 1958. Collection of Michel Campeau

Edse was a German scientist who immigrated to the U.S. after 1945. One day, Campeau discovered on eBay his self-portraits which often showed him surrounded by photo instruments. Campeau acquired more photos authored by Edse. The collection is charming, they show a European family living the “American Dream”.


Anonymous, Photo Club, about 1955. Collection of Michel Campeau


Anonymous, Desired Moments, about 1955. Collection of Michel Campeau


Exhibition view of Michel Campeau. Life Before Digital. Photo: McCord Museum


Anonymous, Desired Moments, about 1955. Collection of Michel Campeau

The series Desired Instants compiles anonymous amateur photography from the 1950s that show, once again, amateur photographers holding or posing next to their instruments. They expose a real enthusiasm for a medium that is still intact 60 years later.


Exhibition view of Michel Campeau. Life Before Digital. Photo: McCord Museum


Anonymous, PAS-Foto, Copenhague, DNK, about 1956. Collection of Michel Campeau

Michel Campeau. Life Before Digital remains open at The McCord Museum in Montreal until the 6th of May 2018.

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/michel-campeau-life-before-digital/