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Mandate, vision, and history

Mandate

Established in 1971 in Montréal, Vidéographe is an artist-run centre dedicated to the research and the dissemination of moving image practices. This includes experimentation in video art, animation, digital arts, documentary, essay, fiction and dance video.

Our mission revolves around five main aspects:
• showcasing moving image practices and developing audiences through programming activities that highlight the plurality of the artistic practice;
• ensuring the distribution of works and the fair payment of artists fees;
• promoting development and research through the provision of support and advice to artists, researchers and curators as well as access to resources and expertise;
• supporting the acquisition of professional expertise and the development of the media arts community;
• building its collection and ensuring accessibility.

We are dedicated to promoting the recognition and understanding of current
and archival works equally.

Vision

Videographe is dedicated to the development of forms that stem from experimental video and encompass the many modes of production and dissemination available in today’s expanded field of moving image. We endeavour to promote the recognition and understanding of both contemporary and archival works.

The moving image serves as a witness to contemporary society. That it is omnipresent in public and private spheres and integrated into our day-to-day communication confirms its relevance and currency as a subject for exploration. The transformation of its languages through, among other things, the hybridization of practices, the influence of the internet and social networks, the growing use of mobile devices, and the rise of virtual reality constitute fertile fields of investigation for Videographe. The conceptual, formal, technical, and political questions that are raised are considered in the context of the changing conditions of production and reception of the last fifty years.

In addition to examining the formal and technical developments of the moving image, Vidéographe looks at the political power of the medium. For as long as it has existed, video has been used as a tool for protest, for the assertion of identity, and for the democratization of discourse. Vidéographe places particular focus on this documentary function.

Artists are at the heart of Vidéographe’s mission, and we endeavour to support them through various strategies. Fair remuneration for their work constitutes an essential value that we actively defend. We are equally driven by the belief that our artistic discipline should be enriched through dialogue and multiple points of view. To this end, we strive to promote work by artists, curators and researchers from a diverse range of cultural backgrounds and genres. Vidéographe encourages collaboration and boosts opportunities for partnerships with arts and community organizations. In actively participating in national and international arts networks, we foster exchange in order to develop and promote our discipline.

Videographe defends the accessibility of culture. Diversifying our strategies of dissemination enables us to reach wide audiences from specialists to students and members of the general public and, in so doing, to promote Canadian cultural heritage.

History

1971
Vidéographe opens its doors on St Denis Street, at the instigation of Robert Forget. The centre is set up as part of a National Film Board (NFB) initiative intended to democratize the production and dissemination of video. In a sense, it is a radicalization of Société Nouvelle / Challenge for Change. Vidéographe comprises a video production studio, a screening room, a video library, and a technical research lab.

1973
The NFB pull out of the venture and Robert Forget, Michel Cartier, Jean-Paul Lafrance, Louis Martin, and Robert Russel proceed to have Vidéographe incorporated as an independent organization.

The 1970s
Vidéographe becomes a flagship model for video production thanks to its experimentation lab, its screening space and its active community. Its members are keen to make videos and people from different milieux (arts, unions, sociocultural) come together. Video production becomes increasingly popular.

Vidéographe earns international recognition for its technological innovations, such as the editometer, which is subsequently marketed. In partnership with Vidéotron, Vidéographe also develops Sélectovision, which offers video-on-demand via cable television.

The organization establishes a distribution network for independent video. This network will go on to serve as a model for Canadian and European distributors.

Although these years are fruitful, the centre is hit by two financial crises over the course of the decade (1973 and 1976). Vidéographe goes bankrupt and temporarily closes its doors in 1976.

The 1980s
With a change in fortune, Vidéographe wins a Bingo prize of $200,000. The deficit is met and Vidéographe buys a two-storey building in the heart of the Plateau Mont-Royal, a flourishing and densely populated district of Montréal (1981). The building is still home to the organization today.

Video becomes more and more established within the fields of cinema and the visual arts. Vidéographe collaborates on a number of events with other organizations that were active at the time, notably the exhibition Vidéo 84 – Rencontres vidéo internationales de Montréal (Video 84 – International  Video Conferences, Montréal), which marks a significant milestone in the history of video in Quebec.

The 1990s
Vidéographe’s building is renovated in order to accommodate state-of-the-art digital editing suites. In 1998, l’Espace Vidéographe, an exhibition space dedicated to media arts, opens its doors in Montréal’s downtown area.

A management service for the documents and cataloguing of Vidéographe’s important collection is set up. Three funds, Vidéographe, TVC-4 (Saint-Jérôme) and Sonographe, are established and entrusted to the Cinémathèque québécoise and Sonothèque.

The 2000s
Vidéographe creates PARC, a laboratory that brings artists, programmers, and electrotechnicians together and offers access to specialized infrastructures for research and production in digital, interactive, and electronic arts.

Vidéographe produces a set of DVDs dedicated to Robert Morin, Pierre Falardeau and Julien Poulin, Charles Guilbert and Serge Murphy, and Donigan Cumming. A collection of conversations with Robert Morin and a monograph on the work of Sylvie Laliberté are also published.

In 2008, Vidéographe initiates Vithèque, an innovative online distribution platform. A dispute with a technical partner leads to a financial and organizational crisis for Vidéographe.

The 2010s
Vithèque, launched in 2011, is reviewed and improved upon in 2017 in order to allow better access to works.

Following some difficult years and an extensive process of reflection, Vidéographe repositions itself within its sector. The centre focuses its interventions on dissemination and distribution and sets up new initiatives to promote research, dissemination, and education in its field. In order to realise these new ambitions, fruitful partnerships are established with Montréal arts and community organizations. Vidéographe’s administrative and financial health is restored.

Today
Vidéographe conserves and distributes a collection of more than 2,250 videos made by more than 800 artists and engaged citizens. Thanks to Vidéographe, these works are showcased nationally and internationally through programming and distribution at festivals, galleries, museums, colleges and universities, as well as via the Internet. This video collection is one of the most important in Canada and is undeniably part of the country’s cultural heritage. It shines light on the social and artistic issues and movements that have helped shape cultural life in Quebec and Canada since the 1970s.

Vidéographe is also a vibrant space for artists’ research and development. Through its residential and training programs, as well as the access to work spaces and guidance that it provides, it fosters experimentation and promotes knowledge sharing. Vidéographe broadens opportunities for artists, curators, and researchers to meet and exchange ideas, stimulating its community while facilitating the development of expertise and practices.

Vidéographe constantly monitors technological developments in order to refine its services and develop innovative strategies to support artists.

Vidéographe promotes accessibility to culture. It uses different dissemination strategies in order to reach specialists, students and the general public alike, and to facilitate better appreciation of Quebecois and Canadian cultural heritage. It offers a regular program of screenings and exhibitions as well as mediation and digital experimentation activities for adolescents.

Looking to the future, Vidéographe is currently working on a major building renovation project. Le point nodal d’un réseau mutualisé de ressources et d’expertises en arts médiatiques (The nodal point of a mutualized network of resources and expertise in media arts) is the name of a popular project that will help numerous media arts practitioners to realize their goals and aspirations by offering a vital space for creation, incubations and cultural outreach.

In its new spaces, Vidéographe will offer the media arts community access to:

  • A multipurpose room for creation, dissemination and training;
  • Communal work, meeting, and networking spaces;
  • A screening room and storage spaces for the collection;
  • A digital experimentation room;
  • A digitization room.

These spaces will be designed for communal use by artists and other media arts practitioners. All of the spaces will be wheelchair accessible.

Vidéographe has, since its conception and throughout its 45-year history, been visionary. The centre has proven to be remarkably adaptable in an evolving environment, anticipating the changes necessary to meet the needs of its artistic community and to support its professional milieu, and integrating innovative practices in order to contribute to the field and support development. Its building project testifies to this commitment to serve its community.