Rober Racine | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Rober Racine

For a later work, Racine conceived of the idea of a park that would comprise all the words in the dictionary.
Le terrain du dictionnaire A/Z
By Rober Racine, 1980 (courtesy Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal).

Rober Racine

  Rober Racine, artist, musician and writer (b at Montréal 1956). He studied literature, art history and cinema during the 1970s and eventually began work as a multidisciplinary artist. Racine has set extraordinary challenges for himself in several notable performances. These include Tetras 1 (1978), a musical composition created for an installation involving musicians, actors and various objects, and a performance based on Erik Satie's Vexations (1978-79) in which a score of 152 notes is repeated 840 times (requiring the artist to play at the piano for more than 14 hours at a time). He also explored the physical, spatial and temporal dimensions of Gustave Flaubert's Salammbô (1978-80). For this work, he transcribed Flaubert's text, constructing a set of large wooden stairs that echoed the architectural structure of the novel. During the performance of the piece, which took 14 hours, Racine read the novel while standing on the appropriate level of the stairs.

For a later work, Racine conceived of the idea of a park that would comprise all the words in the dictionary. Le Parc de la langue française is intended to examine the spatial organization of writing using an outdoor space where the reader/stroller would have to move about physically from one word to another. The work remains a conceptual idea; however, Terrain du dictionnaire A/Z (1980) gives a clear idea of how Le Parc would appear if it is realized one day. For this work, the artist cut out 55 000 entries from 2 editions of the Dictionnaire Robert and glued them onto cards mounted on pegs that were then fastened to a large surface.

Other large products developed from the artist's exploration of the dictionary. For one, the artist took the 2 remaining ragged copies of the Dictionnaire Robert and illuminated the 2130 pages with gilt and colour. He then composed music by isolating the notes hidden in the words of the pages (do, re, mi, fa...) and transferring them to musical staffs. The music of Les pages-miroirs has been arranged for voice, piano and string quartet and has been performed in different events in Canada and Europe.

Rober Racine is well known for the spectacular way in which he transmutes words into music, images and gesture. He has exhibited in many museums and galleries in the world and has been selected to participate in major international events such as the Aperto of the Venice Biennale (1990), the Sydney Biennale (1990) and Documenta IX in Kassel (1992). In 1995, he had a major retrospective at the Centre internationale d'art contemporain in Montréal and at P3 in Tokyo. He has published a novel (Le Mal de Vienne, 1992), produced radio programs, a video (J'aurais dit Glenn Gould, 1984) and composed music for dance and performances.