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Sylvie Readman
From November 28th 1987 to December 20th 1987
Don Quichotte et la photographie

"The truth of Don Quixote resides not in relation of words to the world, but rather in the close, persistent relationships that verbal signs weave among themselves. The dissatisfying fiction of epics has become the representative power of language. The words have closed over their function as signs"
–Michel Foucault, Les mots et les choses

In a figurative sense, Don Quixote is in fact a character who has escaped from litterature. His concept of the world was constructed from an accumulation of readings which end up creating images which he tries in vain to rediscover through his adventures. Thus, for this character, the references are inverted—his life becomes a novel and he considers novels to be historical documents. It is through this procedure that Cervantes questions the codes and concepts of literature, particularly those of the chivalrous tale.

With the fiction of this central character, I began to draw parallels with photography. The latter is analogous to Don Quixote's extended view of the world in which, in his never-ending quest, he is continually bumping into the materiality of the image. In this obliteration of the boundary between the real and the imaginary, Don Quixote is emblematic of my field on interest in photography, centered on the indissociability of illusion and reality.

In this project, the literary character of Don Quixote is transformed into a photographic character in order to question the codes and concepts of the poetic flower of the photographic image.

This metaphorical transposition allowed me to develop certain themes proper to photography such as the fascination we feel for photography's reduplication of the real. It seems to me that Don Quixote, much like a view looking at a photograph, fictionalizes the real without ever having access to it. It also attempted to work out the theme of the mirror, in two different ways: the first as a representation of the imaginary world of the protagonist, the second as an undermining of the medium of photography itself.

The list of themes could be developed further, but I think that this is a task for the spectator after looking at the work itself.

My interest in this legendary figure stems not only from his relationship to photography but also from the nature of the character himself; although he emerges from the middle ages, Don Quixote speaks to us of the gulf that exists between words and things. This is what makes him relevant, current.
- Sylvie Readman (translated by Jeffrey Moore)
- Press release (Optica)

Sylvie Readman is a Montresl artist. She presented a solo exhibition at the Articule gallery in 1982, at Dazibao in 1984, and at the Chambre Blanche in September 1987. She also participated in such exhibitions as "Fragments –Photographie actuelle au Québec", ogranized by the Vu Gallery in 1984 and "Narrativité-Performativité" at Optica Gallery, organized by C.Boulanger and J.-C. Rochefort in 1985. In addition, Readman made a colour Super-8 film in January 1985 which was shown at the Dazibao gallery and the Vu Gallery in 1986 and 1987. Her photographs have appeared in Scénarios, an essay by C.Boulanger published in 1985, and also in the special edition Femmes et photographie of la Nouvelle Barre du Jour (1984).

Dumont, Jean, La Presse, samedi 28 novembre 1987.
Gravel, Claire, Le Devoir, samedi 12 décembre 1987, p. C-9.
Guilbert, Charles, « Don Quichotte et la démarche », Voir, 10 au 16 décembre 1987, p. 19.
Legrand, Jean-Pierre, « Mise en scène d'une perspective », Vie des arts, #131, juin 1988, p. 70.