A video installation projecting intimacy, freedom and escape in relation to nature
Created by comedian and actor Stéphane Crête, in collaboration with his son, Philémon Crête, a cinematographer and producer, Jamais Seul (Never Alone) is a video installation exhibited at the Cinémathèque québécoise, located at 335 Boul. de Maisonneuve E.
Jamais Seul explores freedom and escape in different environments visited by Stéphane Crête. The artist aims to create a connection between the body and its environment.
The video installation is composed of three parts: Rouler (ride), Marcher (walk) and Contempler (contemplate). Each part portrays Crête engaging with his environment in a distinctive way.
Rouler consists of a video with three screens, each of which depicts a different aspect. The first screen shows Crête laying on a bed in different environments. Viewers can see Crête either awake or sleeping. He may be in a room or in a tent. Nonetheless, he is never in the same place.
The second screen is footage on the road that the artist filmed while driving. For instance, Crête may be driving on an empty road away from the city, on a bridge, or he may be driving on the highway near an urban area.
The third screen is another compilation of videos that Crête filmed where he shows his surroundings in different places. One can see the sun setting by the sea, a field on a sunny day, and many more locations that Crête has visited.
The second projection is Marcher, a video installation where the audience can observe Crête walking in different environments, sometimes fully clothed, half-clothed or naked. Crête doesn’t make eye contact with the camera; he simply walks in front of the lens. Most of the time, he has his back to the camera.
The artist walks in a variety of climates. Viewers can see Crête walking in cold or hot places. Crête can be seen walking on sand dunes, on a deserted road, or he can also be seen walking in a forest full of snow or even in a rainforest. There is a shot where he is sitting at the beach during sunset, contemplating the view while the waves crash on the shore.
The artist is never in the presence of another human. He is in the company of nature. This forms a bond between human life and non-human life that surrounds Crête.
The third installation of the collection is Contempler, small footage closeups of different textures of nature. The artist is in contact with his environment through touch. The videos show Crête touching moss, a bee on a flower petal and closeups of leaves, dirt and more. This is the way he engages with his environment to depict the deep connection his body has with it.
Jamais Seul gives spectators the opportunity to follow Crête’s path and see the many types of landscapes that exist. The audience can connect with what is being shown on the screen as some of these environments may be reminders of familiar places they have visited while travelling or simply by taking a walk near a field or in a forest. Still, they remain unknown places to spectators.
Like in a movie, Crête has created a relationship between the actor and the spectator. Crête’s solitude makes the audience desire to be this body wandering in the landscapes seen on the screen. This creates the longing of escaping in these places.
The artist is connecting with his environment. Nothing distracts him from the breathtaking sceneries in which he walks. While watching the video installation, one can realize how the world consists of beautiful places. With the current climate emergency, it may remind the audience of the importance of preserving the environment as it is being harmed due to human activities.
As mentioned in the exhibition’s description, the images projected in the exposition can also be interpreted as a dystopic representation of the end of the world. Crête may be presenting what the world would look like if there was only one human remaining on Earth.
Jamais Seul reminds its viewers of the way they are internally connected to nature as they also take part in the creation. Jamais Seul is on display at Cinémathèque québécoise until April 4. The space is open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day.