People ask me from time to time where I got my interest in music, in musical objects and records, and why I refer to…Read More
Raymond Gervais (1946-2018) was born in Montréal, where he lived and worked. Since 1973, Gervais produced a unique conceptual art practice from the worlds of music and the visual in multiple formats, installations, videos, writing, performances, radio programming; and curating concerts, workshops, events, and exhibitions. He was a founder of the AME (Atelier de Musique Expérimentale); host and programmer for CBC/Radio Canada in the 1980s; as a member of the editorial board of Parachute for two decades; and eventually as a member of the Québec Phonothèque in the 2000s. Gervais participated in developing a fresh and innovative perspective on our heritage of music and exploration of sound, and particularly on jazz, classical, world, and contemporary music. As well as visual arts practitioner, he was a musician, organized concerts, and occasionally taught, while putting together workshops and conferences. Gervais was interested in the world of music because of its sound dimension, the dimension of absence and immateriality that it revealed, but also for the visual apparatus of vinyls and CDs, and for the parallel history of technologies and devices associated to sound- and image-making. In 1980, he was invited to participate in the Biennale de Paris. He participated in "Aurora Borealis" during the Cent jours d'art contemporain de Montréal in 1985, and in the important anthology exhibition "Broken Music" put together by curator René Block, presented in 1990 at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. In 1989, he formed a collective around Samuel Beckett with Rober Racine and Irene F. Whittome and produced "Trio pour Samuel Beckett", a book-record album combining music and voice, text, and images. As a curator, he explored the relationships of "phonography" and photography during the "Phono Photo" exhibition at Dazibao, in 2001. He also curated with his lifetime partner Chantal Pontbriand an exhibition on her father, opera singer, garden city planner, architect and painter, "Henri Pontbriand, ténor canadien" at the London Regional Art Gallery in 1984. Gervais's work history is rich with multiple collaborations with many visual artists, designers, and musicians internationally. In retrospect, he considered "12+1=" to be his first major work, a performance/installation with 13 turntables with twelve different versions, created for the Galerie Media in 1975. One of his largest works in the later years, "Finir, d'après Samuel Beckett et Claude Debussy," was created for Rosascape in Paris in 2012. Gervais mostly exhibited in Canada and in Europe and his works can be found at the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, as well as the CNAP (Centre National des Arts Plastiques), the national collection in France.