Mots du silence, Les
2004, Video, 15:00 (Colour, No Sound)
English title: Words of Silence This project is inspired by the repertory of signs used by Cistercian monks for non-verbal communication. The Cistercian sign language has not expanded much through the centuries; it is a fixed, static system. As a whole, it describes a very finite world, a form of life microcosm suggesting a poetics of details. We are faced with a paradox: a visual system designed in order to maintain silence while allowing for a form of brief communication. In fact, it is a system that aims at restricting communication. Sight relays speech. Monks are speaking through images. Several signs reveal a very simple form of poetry. The idea was then to evoke the poetic associations used to describe the everyday reality of monks, while favouring the most surprising semantic combinations and certain signs that are noteworthy for their sensuous, performative character. The video is punctuated by images shot in Montréal and historical photographs, mostly from the archives at the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies, located in Holland, Manitoba, where the artist did four residencies between December 2000 and October 2003. Excerpts from the Rule of Saint Benedict about silence also give rhythm to the work.