Claude Tousignant






“...the presence of vision in the absence of sight”
A curatorial project by Rebecca Duclos


Voir/Noir at the Musée d’art de Joliette presents an assemblage of historical and contemporary art works that collectively explore the potential of vision to exist in the absence of sight. The lack of sight and its corollary, the emergence of blindness, are more than curatorial themes pursued in the making of the exhibition. Rather, within the broader context of the art museum itself, the exhibition’s perceptual provocation gestures toward the very core of the institution’s raison d’être. If, as the stewards of art’s visual and visionary status, the museum is asked to close its eyes—to temporarily “look away” from sight as the privileged sense—what is revealed in the momentary darkness that follows?

The Blind Architect Meets Rembrandt, Alexander Pilis, 2004
Photo: Richard Max Tremblay


Instead of blindness as a metaphor, the more appropriate symbol for Voir/Noir becomes the pupil whose dilation and contraction is the key to a more imaginative anatomy of vision. At once a bodily process and an emotional indicator (pupils are said to enlarge in the presence of a lover), the aperture-like action of the eye allows us to negotiate the dark and yet be paralyzed by an abundance of light—to fix our gaze on the object of our desire while having to wait until it comes fully into focus.

Installation View showing (L to R) works by Peter Seal, Kiki Smith, Leah Garnett and Clara Gutsche.
Photo: Richard Max Tremblay


Voir/Noir invites its audience to recall the optical and emotional effects of encountering a “blinding light” that leaves one both stunned and enraptured. The exhibition’s curatorial eye thus seeks out works in which dilation and contraction occur—works in which involuntary visuality is explored through the metaphors of epiphany and revelation, the physicalities of retinal after-imaging and night vision, the phenomenology of encountering sensual spaces within slow time.

Curated by Rebecca Duclos, Voir/Noir features the work of contemporary artists Leah Garnett, Ann Veronica Janssens, Doug Moffat, Alexander Pilis, David K. Ross, and Peter Seal alongside a selection of works from the Musée d’art de Joliette’s collection.


Installation view showing historic works from Musée d’art de Joliette’s collections
Image top right: Claude Tousignant, Gong 25 en vert, 1966
Photos: Richard Max Tremblay