The Little Big

Title

The Little Big

Description


You can see "The Little Big" at the bottom of the page


There is something clossal in things small

Il y a quelque chose de colossal dans le petit

exhibitions and screenings of "The Little Big":

2010

"Extraordinary Men" program curated by Stefan St Laurent, Art Star video Biennal, Galerie Saw Gallery, Ottawa, On, Canada

2004

Shot in the back, Paris, France

2003

"Dirges and Sturgeons" 2003 tour: San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Available Light at Club SAW, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2002

"Dirges and Sturgeons" 2002 tour: Artists' Television Access, San Francisco CA, Santa Barbara Community College CAC-Level, Los Angeles CA, Pitzer College Cinematheque, Claremont CA, "Broken Music" at Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles CA, Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis MN,Bamboo Theater Presents, Milwaukee WI,Madison's Starlight Cinema, University of Wisconsin, Madison WI,Discount Cinema at The Empty Bottle, Chicago IL, Illinois State University Cinema Society, Bloomington-Normal IL, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston MA, 3 Billion Art Gallery, Fort Worth, TXLee Hardware Gallery, Shreveport, LA, Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA, Basement Films, Albuquerque, NM, Modified Arts, Phoenix, AZ, The Earwig Factory, Bisbee, AZ, Harvard University, Cambridge, MS, with Elizabeth Subrin (not open to the public),Massachusetts Art Film Society, Boston, MS, Yale University, New Haven, CTWestern Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY "Adolescent Boys, And Living Rooms," curated by Astria Suparak,Mexico City's Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico

Glazart, Paris, France

Melbourne queer Film festival

2001

Rencontres Internationales Paris Berlin,L'entrepôt, Paris, France

Rencontres Internationales Paris Berlin, Aroma & Brotfabrik, Berlin, Germany

"Dirges and Sturgeons" curated by Astria Suparak, New York's Anthology Film Archives, NYC, New York, USA

Sundance Film Festival, Frontier Shorts Program, Park City, Utah, USA

14th Stuttgarter Filmwinter Festival and Exhibition of Expanded Media, Stuttgart, Germany

13th Ankara International Film Festival in Ankara, Turkey

2000

"Corps Accords," program curated by Patrice Allain, Vidéoz'Arts, Nantes, France

.45th Cork Film Festival, Cork City, Ireland

Cinematexas 5, 2000 International Short Film + Video Festival, Austin Texas, USA

"Oculation: Rogue Emissions in the Dark, Film and Video for a Synthetic Society," curated by Rajendra Roy and Anie S8 Stanley at Ars Electronica 2000

NEXT SEX - Sex in the Age of its Procreative Superfluousness, Ars Electronica Center, Museum of the Future, Linz, Austria

Outfest 2000, "Platinum Shorts," The 18th Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Los Angeles, California, USA

12th Annual New York Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, The New Festival, New York City, New York, USA

MIX National Touring Program, presented by MIX New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival at Intermedia Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

"Next sex in the age of its Procreative Superfluousness", curated by Rajendra Roy, Ars Electronica, Ars Electronica Center, Linz , Austria

10th Annual Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Queer City Cinema 2000, Third Biannual Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Mix Mexico, Cuarto Festival de Diversidad Sexual en Cine y Video, Mexico City, Mexico

"Fade Out: New Video Part Two," Chicago Filmmakers Exhibition Series, curated by Patrick Friel, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA

1999

MIX NYC, 13th New York Lesbian & Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival, Anthology Film Archives, New York City, NY, USA

Rajendra Roy: The Venus Flytrap
The first time I saw Pierre-Yves Clouin’s video work, I remember feeling a little naughty. I was looking at what I thought was a dying calf, weak and vulnerable, and yet it was a scintillating experience. The image was a bit out of focus; just enough to invite imagination, but not so much as to dissuade belief. When my eyes finally focused on what was actually taking place on the screen, and I realized that bare skin and labored moans belonged not to a weak calf, but rather to a wily Frenchman, I was enamored. It is perhaps the naked vulnerability of Clouin’s subject/self that makes his careful mastery of the video trompe l’oeil so beguiling. In each of the minute-or-so long works he produces, the viewer is presented with soft crevices on sculpted male bodies, hush moans and false orifices via voyeuristic electronic glances. In the end, it is always the viewer who is left exposed. Exposed that is, to the invented reality of the recorded image. At once anti-documentarian and a redefining of the visual autobiography, Clouin’s work succeeds precisely because he fully expects us to trust the camera: “Seeing is Believing.” Melding a Venus flytrap’s knack for seduction with a contortionist’s sense of mise-en-scène, Pierre-Yves Clouin is the quintessential video “top.”
Rajendra Roy

Rajendra Roy: L’attrape-mouche
La première fois que j’ai vu le travail vidéo de Pierre Yves Clouin, je me souviens de m’être senti un peu coupable. Je regardais ce qui me semblait être un veau en train de mourir, faible et vulnérable, et c’était pourtant une étincelante expérience. L’image était un peu floue ; juste assez pour inviter à l’imagination, mais pas suffisamment pour nous dissuader d’y croire. Quand, finalement, mes yeux se concentrèrent sur ce qu’en fait il y avait à l’écran, et que je réalisais que cette peau dénudée et que ces difficiles gémissements n’étaient pas ceux d'un veau sans défense, mais plutôt d'un astucieux français, j'ai été épris.

C’est peut-être la vulnérabilité nue du sujet-moi de Clouin qui rend sa soigneuse maîtrise de la vidéo trompe-l’œil si captivante. Dans chacun de ses travaux d’une minute, ou des plus longs, qu’il a produit, le spectateur se trouve devant de douces fentes sur des corps masculins sculptés, de secrets gémissements et de faux orifices via de voyeuristes coups d’œil électroniques. À la fin, c’est toujours le spectateur qui reste mis à nu, exposé en fait à la réalité inventée de l’image enregistrée.
À la fois anti-documentaire et redéfinition de l’autobiographie visuelle, le travail de Clouin réussit précisément parce qu’il attend entièrement de nous, d’avoir confiance en la caméra : "Voir, c’est croire".
En fusionnant la stratégie de séduction de l’attrape-mouche de Vénus et un sens contorsionniste de la mise en scène, Clouin est le "top" quintessenciel de la vidéo.
Rajendra Roy
Chief curator, Department of Film, Museum of Modern Art;
Competition Selection Committee, Berlinale Internationale
Filmfestspiele Berlin; Formerly, programmer, artistic director,
Hamptons International Film Festival; executive director, MIX
Gay/Lesbian Film Festival; Film and Media Arts Program Manager,  Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Education: BA, University of California, San Diego
Co-founder: Rising Stars program
Publications include: "Making Choices," Moving Pictures; "The New
'Old' World," IndieWIRE; "Naked Eye: Pierre-Yves Clouin," Empire,
no. 7; "The Knickian Doctrine: A Metaphor for the Future of the Media
Arts," MAIN; "The Truth and the Need: Jim Hubbard as Curator" in
Jim Hubbard, Filmmaker, exh. cat. Brooklyn: Dumba Arts Center;
"Films and Videos for a Synthetic Society" with Anie Stanley, in Next
Sex; "L'Attrape Mouche (Venus Flytrap)" in Turbulences Video #29.





"Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image," by Erin Brannigan, Oxford University Press, 2011, New York, USA

"The French filmmaker Pierre Yves Clouin takes this potential of the close-up to an extreme, maximizing the tendency toward obscurity to create his intimate signature aesthetic. Clouin's films are autoportraits of his body shot in close range and at strange angles, creating uncanny images to the sound of his physical exertions. In 'Kangaroo' (1998), fingers and then a hand emerge through what looks like buttock cheeks but could be knees. In 'The Little Big' (1999), a barely lit anthropomorphic shape moving slightly back and forth is discerned, again resembling buttocks, but a burst of light reveals it is a shot of his back, down his body from behind his head, his bare buttocks creating another similar shape below. In 'Workman' (1998), a shot of Clouin's back and thighs with his bottom raised high in the air focuses on the action of the muscles in his back and hip, the gluteus muscle pumping in and out as his knee bends and straightens. The crease in his hip begins to look like that between forearm and upper arm or any other corporeal joint. The resulting movements have an uncanny quality that departs from corporeal specificity, expressing the materiality of the human condition humorously through unlikely and undisclosed bodily sites."
- Erin Brannigan, "Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image," Oxford Univesity Press, New York, 2011.

« Le réalisateur français Pierre Yves Clouin, en tendant au maximum vers l'obscurité pour créer son intime signature esthétique, pousse à l’extrême ce potentiel du plan rapproché. Les vidéos de Clouin sont des autoportraits de son propre corps filmé à bout portant et sous d’étranges angles qui créent des images déroutantes, avec pour fond sonore le bruit de son travail physique. Dans «'Kangaroo' » (1998), des doigts puis une main sortent de ce qui ressemble à des fesses mais pourraient aussi bien être des genoux. Dans 'The Little Big' (1999), on discerne une forme anthropomorphe à peine éclairée qui se balance doucement et qui ressemble de nouveau à des fesses ; mais un éclat de lumière révèle que c'est son dos, vu d’en haut juste derrière sa tête, alors que ses fesses nues forment la même figure en-dessous. Dans 'Workman(1998), un plan de son dos et de ses cuisses, avec ses fesses tout en haut, se focalise sur l'action des muscles de son dos et de sa hanche. Le grand fessier se contracte et s’étire, alors que son genou se plie et se déplie. L’articulation de sa hanche commence alors à ressembler à celle de l’intérieur du coude ou à n'importe quelle autre articulation du corps. Les mouvements qui en résultent ont une qualité mystérieuse qui s'écarte de leur origine corporelle. Par l’exploration de champs non divulgués et improbables du corps, ils expriment avec humour la matérialité de la condition humaine. »

Erin Brannigan works in dance and film as a journalist, academic and curator. She was the founding Director of ReelDance International Dance on Screen Festival and has curated dance screen programs and exhibitions for Sydney Festival 2008, Melbourne International Arts Festival 2003 and international dance screen festivals. Erin writes on dance for the Australian arts newspaper, RealTime and lectures in the School of English, Media and Performing Arts at the University of New South Wales. Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image is available from Oxford Univesity Press and at Amazon.com.




Ger Zielinski Short, Quiet and Disturbing On Recent Video Work by Pierre Yves Clouin

My first brush with Clouin was seeing his video MY LEVITATING BUTT (Cul en l'air) (1997), a sharp short that shoots from tle hip and reveals several of the artist's concerns. Butt is composed of a single shot containing now and then part of the artist's body. The work opens with the actor/artist apparendy lying on the floor for a few moments nearly naked, clad merely in a skimpy jockstrap. He then slaps his butt and begins to levitate, legs curled up and hidden from the camera, exposing only his back, subtly bobbing upwards and magically tansforming into what appears to be the giant head of a fully erect penis, eventually escaping out of the top of the screen. The image is centred, symmetrical, simple.The body is Platonic in its self discipline, its certainty, its athleticism, its lean, taut muscles, always a pleasure to uncover, to view. The movement of the body across the frame is forever steady, precise. Nothing wasted, nothing extraneous. The sound is raw, from the studio in which the tape was shot, apparendy unmanipulated and direct. Thematically, the work addresses vision and the gaze through framing devices and the male body, but the accent is equally on the male figure and the representation of gay male sexuality. These elements return in various combinations and balances in Clouin's more recent work. On his artistic practice Clouin notes, “Alone in front of the camera, and without word, I spy on myself in the monitor during the action. I am double: seer and seen." This excerpt captures and accurately accounts for several elements characterizing his work. In particular, the strong, successful play with framing is reminiscent of Warhol's provocative film Blow Job (1963) in which only an actor's face and upper body are in view. The putative offscreen action is fellatio. From the tide and the actor's expressions and sounds the viewer is left to decide whether the action in fact took place. No visual closure to this simple narrative is offered. the action's factuality is left inderterminate. While Clouin's use of framing to create ambivalence and emotional tension sometimes ends in narative resolution, sometimes the ambivalence remains. another of many influences on Clouin's approach to relating his body and technological medium in Vito Acconci's work. The concern with acknoleging the medium itself through its most fundamental devices, such as a frame and direct sound, is common to both. Unsettling or disturbing the viewer by situating him as voyeur is also a strongly shared motif. However, one important difference between these video artists is that Clouin never speaks or verbally addresses the viewer directly. His work is largely visual in nature and quiet, with some direct environmental sound, but never spoken language. The wit inherent in his visual bodily play owes a little to the notion of ostranenie or making the banal strange, coined by the early Russian avant-garde. A riddle of sorts is often posed to the viewer before he even recognizes it as such a way as to mislead the audience into assuming they know what is displayed until the situation is carefully, subtlly changed, the framing is altered, the body is moved, to reveal the mistake, misperception, misunderstanding. A gentle but disturbing subversion of learned viewingng habits, lazy epistemologly.
Both COWBOY (1998) and DIANA TEXAS (1999) I selected to be part of a program of artists' film and video called DRAGGED OUT: A STUDIED GLANCE AT CURRENT RADICAL DRAG (at Toronto's Pleasure Dome in 1999. The aim of the show was to inspect the outer boundaries of (radical?) drag mainly by artists. While neither of Clouin's tapes was intended as a drag tape, to be sure, they fit superbly in the program, perhaps for that very reason. COWBOY is a single shot of the kneeling artist's naked thighs, butt, and scrotum from behind, centred and in triangular stance with bright sunlight spilling into the studio before him and street sounds just barely audible. The viewer wonders what the actor is doing. Curiously sunning himself, urinating while kneeling, masturbating? He manipulates his scrotum with his hands, forming a silhouette of what may be discerned as bovine teats. Here it is not a question of crossdressing but of species crossing without any sophisticated camouflage but simply the actor/artist's body, light and camera. The movement and eventual revelation of feigned teats are droll and serve well Clouin's accompanying caption for this video, "In just a lonesome cowboy with gorgeous teats." In his DIANA TEXAS we see first a composition of the chest and hands of someone-in fact, the artist-lying in a t-shirt, apparently with breasts. The actor/artist lights a cigarette with a match, accompanied by raw sound. His hands begin to fondle the “breasts" erotically and in turn unscrew their tips and begin ringing them, which thereby reveals their practical nature as desktop bells. He then slides the breasts-bells around under his shirt while ringing them to a near visual and aural frenzy. With his glasses on he briefly peers into the camera, and finally readjusts the bells to better simulate once again a female chest to bring the tape to a close. DIANA TEXAS seems a sort of feminist video, a veritable parody of straight male porn or more generally the representation of women and their objectification; here the feigned selferoticism as in pornography is merely posed for the camera and the inferred viewer/voyeur, but thoroughly disrupted by the excessive movement and ringing. KANGAROO ( 1998) provokes the viewer through its impossible, unresolved nature, while CARNISSUS (1999) continues the play with ambivalence but at the threshold of light. KANGAROO has its own curious pouch-ostensibly a human butt-which fills the screen and out of which toils arduously and incredulously a hand with heavybreathing on the sound track. The hand once outside reaches to lind some cloth near the camera lens and then flicks its fingers at the lens which signals the end of the video. An audacious example of a sort of reverse fist fuck, wittily turned inside out? The "butt" is so convincing that I am still unsure with which other body parts Clouin achieved such a fine simulation. I am left wondering and in wonder. With clear references to the myth of Narcissus and "carne" (flesh), CARNISSUS lives at the edge, the threshold of light, of reflection. The video image is dark and difficult to discern but intrigues and holds the attention of the viewer. One hears water dripping, with added manipulation to achieve an echoing sound, supporting the theme of reflection. One also hears passionate kissing which one associates witl the shadowy figures inthe frame. One eventually recognizes the kissing partner of the male ligure as the figure's very own reflection in a mirror. The darkness of the screen, images nearly indiscernible, entices the viewer into prolonged voyeuristic activity, a drive to see, touncover, to witness, to know. One video that stands quite alone in Clouin's recent work is HONNEY BUNNY (Mon lapin bleu)(1999), breaking with a few of the artist's stylistic and structural devices. BUNNY is lighter in tone than the others, even whimsical. It opens with a shot of the actor, the artist himself, sitting naked on a stuffed toy bunny, crotch to crotch. He bounces in that position moving about the floor of the studio, perhaps simulating some frisky sex,which is then interrupted by the titles of the piece. The final (and humorous) shot is of the bunny as a top, mounting the actor/artist. Here Clouin's carnal perplexity and subtle framing are forsaken. The strange and banal mass-produced, interchangeable stuffed bunny in this video becomes a sex object, a children's toy, a fetish. Kinky, indeed.The brisk movement of the actor and bunny subverts the darker consequences of all this, but the subtext pointing to the commodification of desire and sexuality remains.
Reminiscent of the earlier Butt, among others, in depth and quality, Clouin's THE LITTLE BIG (1999) ranks as one of my favourites of his videos. This tape begins with the image of an apparent butt, sound the sound of a match being lit, and watersounds that may signify the setting of a bathroom. A hand caresses the butt, but also appears much larger in scale. With the heavy breathing we wonder what sort of sexual activity is being performed on the other, hidden side. Piquing our voyeuristic curiosity, we wonder about fellatio, masturbation, etc. The actor's dangling balls appear to jut visibly from the base of his butt. This action is sustained over a few seconds, allowing the viewer to become misled in his confident mechanisms of recognition, identiification and empathy. The butt unravels surprisingly into shoulder blades, balls into butt. Camera angle revealed. Assumptions destroyed. Match struck and cigarette lit.
Surveying several of Clouin's recent videos reveals a concise portrait of an artist and his work very successfully situated in traditions carved out by such artists as Warhol and Acconci, among others, but with important differences in approach to his medium and treatrnent of his thermes and concerns. Clouin pushes video art in avery reflexive direction. Not only is medium specificity, i.e. video as video, constant, but also the thematic concern with looking and the gaze. He constitutes the voyeur through his clever framing of his body and proceeds to dispel his assumptions, thereby making the banal ever so strange. Clouin'swork challenges and provokes the audience into seeing particularly the male body anew and more generally into rethinking our presumed and lazy habits of perceiving. Work truly short, quiet and disturbing. The way I Iike it.
Ger Zielinski lectures on contemporary aenhetics and theories of art, film and new media work inthe School of Image Arts, Ryerson Polyechnic University, Toronto. He also lectures at universities and festivals in Europe and North America, and publishes criticism regularly in Paruchute and Lola, among other art mags. Ger curates for Toronto's Pleasure Dome.



Rajendra Roy: Naked Eye
"'Timidity is not an issue,' says video artist Pierre Yves Clouin. Part exhibitionist, part auteur, Clouin is not afraid to show a little skin in his little videos (none are more than 5 minutes long). And is not afraid to share an opinion either: 'Full frontal nudity is curiously flat.'

"As both director and star of his growing body of work, Clouin focuses his lens on parts of the male body that don't often make gay top-ten lists, like armpits and shoulders, the small of the back and the top of the head. Clouin works like a video Venus Flytrap, seducing audiences with intimate close-ups of curves and orifices on his own well-sculpted body. Just when you think you recognize what's on screen, the body unfolds and you realize you just got turned on shoulder cleavage ( The Little Big, 2000) or by a particularly sexy earlobe (I've Got Mouths All Over, 1999).
"Earlier this year he screened a tape at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. This fall he has a few venues lined up including the MIX Festival in Manhattan, where Clouin once premiered The Bleating Calf and caused a sensation with animal rights activists until it was explained that what looked like a lamb about to be slaughtered was actually Clouin himself, naked and moaning.
"Clouin travels quite a bit these days, leaving his boyfriend at home in Paris. Exquisitely formed and clearly at ease with exposing himself to the critical masses, Clouin has some sexy advice for the body-obsessed among us: 'Accept pleasure whatever it may be and whenever it strikes.'"
Rajendra Roy




Stefan St-Laurent: Extra Ordinary Men

Pierre Yves Clouin est un vidéaste excentrique et curieux, et probablement le premier vidéaste avec lequel j’ai travaillé, autour de 1995. Je l’ai rencontré pour la première fois en personne à Paris, sa ville, il y a une dizaine d’années, alors que j’effectuais des recherches à titre de commissaire; il m’a montré un aspect de la ville que peu de jeunes commissaires ont la chance de voir et d’expérimenter. J’y ai été confronté à plein de nouvelles idées et je me suis posé des questions sur mon compte. Son travail m’a éclairé comme je n’avais jamais imaginé que des videos lo-fi, à petit budget, pouvaient le faire. 
Clouin vivait en périphérie de Paris dans une cité conçue par Le Corbusier et habitée par des artistes. Nous nous y sommes rendus à pied; c’était assez loin, à partir du Marais jusqu’à la Seine du côté de la bibliothèque Mitterrand, et nous nous sommes arrêtés dans une zone de drague gaie tellement extravagante que Paris a commencé à me sembler irréelle, comme dans un film. Si vous demandiez à des cinéastes hétéros d’essayer d’imaginer à quoi ressemblerait une scène de drague gaie, probablement qu’ils en arriveraient exactement à ce que j’ai vu. Cette réalité était exagérée: j’ai compris sur le champ que je me trouvais, en fait dans cet espace extrêmement chargé et sexualisé qui, depuis toujours, fascine Clouin.
Nous avons traversé un passage souterrain qui est vite devenu très sombre, même si nous étions au beau milieu du jour. On pouvait voir des figures en mouvement, des silhouettes qui se profilaient devant la petite entrée à l’autre bout d’où émanait un peu de lumière. Je lui ai dit que j’avais peur, et il a ri. En connaissance de cause, il m’a dit: « Attends de voir l’autre côté.» Là, des hommes, soi-disant vêtus comme des ouvriers de la construction, étaient assis à califourchon sur des machines gigantesques, les scrotums sortant de leurs jeans par des échancrures comme de la cire fondue, et ils s’adonnaient frénétiquement à des activités sexuelles orales et anales. Dans plusieurs de ses dernières  œuvres, Clouin explore cet espace précaire où cohabitent public et privé.
Je me suis confronté à une pruderie à l’intérieur de moi même dont j’ignorais l’existence. Pendant des années, j’avais pensé m’être affranchi tout simplement en proclamant «je suis gai »; je ne savais pas alors à quel point la vision que j’avais de ma propre sexualité était expurgée et passait par un filtre hétérosexuel et culturel. L’actrice rebelle Marlène Dietrich affirmait : «Le sexe. En amérique, une obsession. Dans d’autres parties du monde, un fait.» On ne peut s’empêcher de penser qu’elle évoquait Paris, où elle a passé les dernières années de sa vie. Empreinte de sexualité et d’humour, l’œuvre de Clouin nous montre une facette de la vie gaie qui, sans être nécessairement flatteuse est touchante et qui, tout en étant crue, est spectaculairement sublime.
Examiner la teneur philosophique des travaux de Clouin sans renvoyer à Michel Foucault équivaudrait à occulter le cœur même de sa pratique. Le corpus de ses vidéos est constitué de moments vécus ou documents intimes d’un être en relation avec d’autres, captés par le petit œil de sa caméra portable. En 1982, Foucault aurait pu parler du travail de Clouin lorsqu’il déclarait en entrevue: « La sexualité fait partie de nos comportements. elle fait partie de notre liberté mondiale. La sexualité est quelque chose que nous inventons nous-mêmes. Elle est notre propre création, et elle est beaucoup plus que la découverte d’une face cachée de notre désir. Nous devons comprendre que nos désirs s’accompagnent de nouvelles formes de relation, de nouvelles formes d’amour, de nouvelles formes de création. Le sexe n’est pas une fatalité; c’est un potentiel de vie crétive. Il ne suffit pas d’affirmer que nous sommes gais; nous devons également créer une existence gaie1.»
Ethnographie homosexuelle destinée à la consommation populaire, l’œuvre vidéo de Clouin révèle la matière extraordinaire dont est faite la culture gaie contemporaine. Le jeu qui consiste à montrer et à cacher est très significatif, et il me rappelle le paradoxe de la vie gaie: vouloir la visibilité et la liberté, tout en cherchant l’invisibilité par peur de la violence et de l’humiliation. Bien que le voyeur, en général, n’entre pas en contact ou n‘échange pas directement avec le sujet de son observation, plusieurs critiques et programmeurs réfèrent souvent au côté voyeur du travail de Clouin. 
J’établirais plutôt des parallèles avec la photographie secrète, apparue à la fin du XIXe siècle avec l’avènement de l’appareil photo d’espion et depuis popularisée grâce à la miniaturisation des dispositifs d’enregistrement d’images. Et bien que la France ait maintenant adopté des lois très strictes interdisant la publication de toute photographie sans le consentement exprès du sujet, Clouin accepte l’illégalité de ce qu’il produit et accomplit dans la sphère publique. Bien sûr, sa démarche n’est pas nouvelle et elle nous rappelle la technique de Paul Strand : « Strand partait pour le district Five Points, le cœur des taudis d’immigrants dans le Lower East Side, avec son appareil photo équipé d’un faux objectif pour détourner l’attention. Strand s’approchait d’un sujet potentiel, faisait un tour de 90 degrés sur lui-même et pointait le faux objectif dans cette direction. Le vrai objectif, situé au bout d’un soufflet, émergeait de son aisselle et visait le sujet désiré2.»
Clouin nous fait voir son monde sous un jour remarquable de réalité et de proximité, comblant ainsi la séparation entre écran et spectateur. Nous regardons en quelque sorte à travers l’objectif de sa caméra, comme si celle-ci était entre nos propres mains. Même lorsqu’il la retourne vers lui-même, dans le cadre intime de son studio, nous avons encore l’impression de manipuler la caméra, découvrant son corps gai, étrange et ce sans la sensation désagréable de fouiner dans sa vie privée. Parfois narrées, les œuvres prennent alors le ton d’un journal intime tout en ayant une échelle cartographique: nous vivons ces moments en compagnie de Clouin, au fil de ses errances dans les rues de Paris et du monde, jamais tout à fait flâneur, jamais tout à fait voyeur.
Sura Wood, journaliste à Hollywood, dit de son travail qu’il « (séduit) le public avec ses gros plans intimes de courbes et d’orifices de son propre corps bien modelé. Au moment où l’on pense reconnaître ce qui apparaît à l’écran, le corps se déplie et on réalise avoir été excité par le creux d’une épaule ou un lobe d’oreille particulierement sexy3». avec une économie de moyens, Clouin est capable de se montrer, de montrer son corps et ceux d’autres hommes sous un éclairage extraordinaire. 
La mise en lumière de la vie homosexuelle ordinaire et d’une masculinité tangible est un antidote nécessaire aux images stéréotypées, exagérées, d’homosexuels que véhiculent constamment les médias. Clouin offre des images de la sexualité masculine gaie crûment honnêtes et qui baignent dans une lumière régénératrice et libératrice. Je remercie Pierre Yves Clouin de m’avoir montré que mon identité est résolument gaie et que ma vie, dans tout ce qu’elle a d’ordinaire, demeure toujours fascinante.
Stefan St-Laurent, commissaire

Traduit de l’anglais par Colette Tougas

Notes

  1. Bob Gallager et Alexander Wilson, « Michel Foucault. An Interview: Sex, Power and the Politics of Identity», Advocate (7 août 1984).(Notre traduction.)
  2. Department of Photographs, «Paul Strand (1890 - 1976) «, Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000-, http://metmuseum.org/toah/hd/pstd/hd_pstd.htm (visité le 20 octobre 2010).(Notre traduction.
  3. Sura Wood, «Exploring the Offbeat World of Experimental Film» San Francisco Arts Monthly, avril 2005. (Notre traduction.)

 Artiste multidisciplinaire et commissaire, Stefan St-Laurent est né à Moncton au Nouveau-Brunswick en 1974. Il est détenteur d’un baccalauréat en arts médiatiques de l’université Ryerson de Toronto. Son travail performatif et vidéographique a été présenté dans de nombreuses galeries et institutions muséales au Canada (YYZ - Toronto, La Galerie d’art d’Ottawa, Western Front - Vancouver, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia - Halifax) et en Europe ( Centre national de la photographie de Paris - France, Centre d’art contemporain de Basse-Normandie, Edsvik Konst och Kultr - Suède). En 2008, il était invité de la Biennale d’art perfomatif de Rouyn-Noranda. Il a également été invité comme commissaire du Symposium international d’art contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul de 2010 et 2011. Il agit présentement à titre de commissaire de la Galerie SAW Gallery d’Ottawa.

Stefan St-Laurent: Extra Ordinary Men 

Pierre Yves Clouin is an eccentric and transgressively curious video artist from Paris, and possibly the first video artist I worked with in my life, circa 1995. I met him in person for the first time about a decade ago in his hometown while doing curatorial research, and he showed me a side of this city few budding curators get to see and experience. I was confronted with a slew of new ideas, and even self-questioning. His work iluminated me in ways I didn’t think lo-fi, low budget video could.
Clouin lived on the outskirts of Paris in a Le Corbusier - designed artists’ housing project. We walked there, quite far, from the Marais district to the Seine river on the Mitterand library side, stopping at a gay cruising area that was so over-the-top, Paris started to look unreal, like in the movies. If you asked a group of straight filmmakers to try to imagine what a gay cruising scene would look like, they would probably imagine exactly what I saw. It was an exaggerated reality: I realized right then and there that I was actually in that hyper-charged, sexualized space Clouin has been eternally fascinated with.
In broad daylight, we walked through an underpass that became extremely dark. Moving figures could be seen briefly as silhouettes from the small door at the other end which emitted a little bit of light. I told him I was scared, and he just laughed. He knowingly said to me, «Wait until you see the other side.» There, men theoretically dressed as construction workers sat spread-eagle on colossal machines, scrotums oozing out of jeans holes like melting candles, with everyone eventually engaging in frenetic outdoor oral and anal sex. Many of Clouin’s later works indulge in this tenuous space where the public and the private cohabit.
I was confronted with a prudeness inside me I didn’t know was there. For years, I thought I had gained my freedom by only having pronounced the words «I’m gay,» obivious back then to how heterosexualized or culturally sanitized my view was of my own sexuality. Renegade actor Marlene Dietrich proclaimed, «Sex. In America an obsession. In other parts of the world a fact», and one can’t help but imagine she was speaking latterly of Paris, where she spent the final years of her life. Drenched in sexuality and humour, Clouin œuvre shows us a facet of queer life that may be unflattering but still endearing, raw but spectacularly sublime.
Examining Clouin’s philosophical side without referencing Michel Foucault would overlook what is at the heart of his practice. The corpus of his video are lived moments, or intimate recordings of the self in relation with others, captured by the tiny eye of a hand-held video camera. In a interview in 1982, Foucault could have been speaking of Clouin’s work: «Sexuality is a part of our behaviour. It’s part of our world freedom. Sexuality is something that we ourselves create. It is our own creation, and much more than the dicovery of a secret side of our desire. We have to understand that with our desires go new forms of relationships, new forms of love, new forms of creation. Sex is not a fatality; it’s a possibility for creative life. It’s not enough to affirm that we are gay but we also create a gay life.»
A queer ethnography for popular consumption, his video work reveals the extraordinary and ordinary stuff found in contemporary queer culture. The game of hiding and revealing is quite significant, and reminds me of the paradox of gay life: seeking visibility and freedom all the while seeking invisibility for fear of violence and humiliation. While a voyeur does not typically relate or directly exchange with the subject he or she is observing, many critics and programmers refer often to the voyeuristic nature of Clouin’s work.
I would rather make comparisons with secret photography, introduced in the late 1800s with the advent of spy cameras and popularized ever since by miniaturization of image-recording devices. And although France has now adopted quite strict laws prohibiting the publication of any photograph of a person without their express consent, Clouin embraces the lawlessness of what he is making and doing in the public sphere. His approach is certainly not new, and reminds us of Paul Strand’s technique: «Strand set out for Five Points, the heart of the immigrant slums on the Lower East Side, with his camera rigged with a false lens to distract attention. Approaching a potential subject, Strand turned ninety degrees away and aimed the false lens in the direction he was facing. The real lens, on an extended bellows, stuck out under his arm toward the person.»2
Clouin shows us his world with spectacular realness and proximity, closing the divide between screen and viewer. We are somewhat looking through Clouin’s camera lens, as if we were holding the camera ourselves. Even when he turns the camera onto himself, in the intimate setting of the studio, we feel like we are manipulating the camera once again, discovering his strange, queer body without that nagging feeling of snooping into his private life. Sometimes narrated, the works become diaristic in tone, and cartographic in scale - we are living the moments with Clouin, as he wanders the streets of Paris and the world, never quite flâneur, never quite a voyeur.
Holywood reporter Sura Wood states that his work «(seduces) audiences with intimate close-ups of curves and orifices on his own well-sculpted body. Just when you think you recognize what’s on-screen, the body unfolds and you realize you just got turned on by shoulder cleavage or by a particularly sexy earlobe.»3 With an economy of means, Clouin is able to show himself, his body, and the bodies of other men, in an extraordinary light.
This illumination of ordinary queer life, of tangible masculinity, is a necessary antidote to the stereotypical, exaggerated images of homosexuals we constantly encounter in the media. He portrays an image of queer male sexuality that is brutally honest, and basked in a light that is regenerating and liberating. I thank Pierre Yves Clouin for showing me that my identity is determinately queer, and that my life, in all its ordinariness, is somehow fascinating still. 
- Stefan St-Laurent, Curator

Notes

  1. Bob Gallager et Alexander Wilson, « Michel Foucault. An Interview: Sex, Power and the Politics of Identity», Advocate, August 7, 1984.
  2. Department of Photographs, «Paul Strand (1890 - 1976), « in Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000-, http://metmuseum.org/toah/hd/pstd/hd_pstd.htm (accessed October 20, 2010)
  3. Sura Wood, «Exploring the Offbeat World of Experimental Film» San Francisco Arts Monthly, April 2005.

 Stefan St-Laurent, a multidisciplinaryartist and curator, was born in Moncton, New Brunswick, in 1974. He holds a Bachelor of Media Arts from Ryerson University in Toronto. His performative and video works have shown extensively in Canada and Europe, including at YYZ in Toronto, the Ottawa Art Gallery in Ottawa, Western Front  in Vancouver, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, the Centre national de la photographie in Paris and  Edsvik Konst och Kultur in Sweden. In 2008, he was the guest curator of the Biennale d’art perfomatif de Rouyn-Noranda. He was also invited to serve as the guest curator of Baie-Saint-Paul’s International Symposium of Contemporary Art in 2010 and 2011. He is currently Curator of Galerie SAW Gallery in Ottawa.




Michele Laudig, “Experimental Workout: Films are short in format, long on imagination,” Phoenix New Times, October 10, 2002, phoenixnewtimes.com, Phoenix, Arizona, USA:
Curated for New York's Anthology Film Archives by Astria Suparak, "Dirges and Sturgeons" premiered in October 2001. The program included work by Animal Charm, Lawrence Elbert, Bjorn Melhus, Pierre Yves Clouin, Jacqueline Goss, Miranda July, Seth Price, and others.
Clouin's “The Little Big” ’(1999, photo), selected for Sundance 2001 was featured in the show.
" ... case in point: Pierre Yves Clouin's The Little Big, an up-close crevice of quievering flesh that maximizes its eroticism by keeping the viewer guessing about what body  part is bing shown. That's what I like about experimental work --just having to work your brain a little harder instead of predicting the ending."

Date

1999-08-08

Rights

© Pierre Yves Clouin

Type

MovingImage

Coverage

Paris

Transcription

There is something clossal in things small

Il y a quelque chose de colossal dans le petit

Original Format

dv

Duration

00:03:38

Director

Pierre Yves Clouin

Files

Collection

Tags

Citation

“The Little Big,” Pierre Yves Clouin, accessed September 21, 2021, https://pierreyvesclouin.fr/items/show/11.