Colin Campbell (1942-2001) is widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of video art for his provocative, thoughtful, and wry depictions of sexuality, gender, and social norms and expectations. Born in Reston, Manitoba, he received his MFA from Claremont Graduate School in California. He began teaching at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, where he made his first video works including the influential Sackville, I’m Yours (1972). He moved to Toronto in the early 1970s where he taught at OCAD University and the University of Toronto. The creator of more than fifty video works including Hollywood and Vine (1977), Bad Girls (1980), and Dangling by Their Mouths (1981), Campbell was also active in the artist-run centre movement, helping to establish Vtape, Canada’s largest distributor of video art.
More Voice-Over: Colin Campbell Writings gathers for the first time a broad selection of Campbell’s writings for video and beyond. It includes scripts as well as magazine articles, artists’ books, lectures, short fiction, and excerpts from his two unpublished novels. In these witty and perceptive texts, Campbell considers desire and longing, sexuality and gender, power, history, his own artistic practice and community, artist-run culture, video and its audiences, censorship, the AIDS crisis, and more. Covering three decades, More Voice-Over illuminates Campbell’s development as a central figure in the history of video art as well as the importance of writing to his work and to video as an artistic medium.
I discovered the remarkable artwork of Colin Campbell around 1975. I was taken by how he brazenly stood alone and faced a video camera, to record his witty and urbane monologues. Straddling the line between fact and fiction, his videos showed him brilliantly delivering a text with the candour of a TV-commercial actress and the veracity of a handsome newscaster. I exhibited Colin’s early masterpiece, Conundrum Clinique (1981), and quickly added it to MoMA’s video collection. More Voice-Over, will secure this pioneering artist’s richly deserved place in video art’s history.
More Voice-Over: Colin Campbell Writings is an impressive labour of personal commitment and erudition on the part of editor Jon Davies. It also confirms the groundbreaking brilliance and coherence as a writer of Colin Campbell, hitherto known as a pioneering Canadian queer video artist. Davies’s important collection fills a major gap in international as well as English Canadian cultural history.
Colin Campbell was one of North America’s most important video artists. His works have been exhibited internationally, including at Documenta 6 and the 39th Venice Biennale, and are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the National Gallery of Canada, among many other institutions. His videos are distributed by Vtape in Toronto.
Jon Davies is a PhD candidate in art history at Stanford University.
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