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Question 12: Are there any noteworthy events that influenced your career?


The Jonestown mass suicide, in the French Guiana. I was 12. Naturally I didn’t even have my camera yet, nor the idea to do art. My father was sitting at the table and he was playing solitaire; that’s what my father always does, he plays cards, he plays on and on and on. I’m eating Fruit Loops and something on the radio… The radio was on English CBC, and when the radio was on English CBC, something serious was going on. My father, if he heard something was going on he’d switch to English CBC. So, the moment was loaded, because I knew something serious was going on. There was a was about the mass suicide that had taken place in a tropical place some 3 to 4 days before. The reporter was walking amid the bodies holding… Naturally, this was on radio, so I had a vivid picture of that moment, but it is an image I got through the radio. The reporter was holding a handkerchief over his mouth, you could tell his voice was muffled, he was describing the scene while trying not to vomit. I was eating my Fruit Loops; the sun was shining through the window; across, a nice field, horses in it. My dad was playing solitaire. Something just popped; it’s like I heard the world changing in a snap. I now realize that my entire vision of the world changed at that moment, it’s something I’m still trying to understand as I talk about it. But it’s a moment, you know the idealised vision of father and son, the son eating his Fruit Loops; that was a symbol, you know we were living a good life. My dad was playing solitaire, which means that my dad didn’t work on Sundays, that our financial situation allowed us to have some leisure time. The source of information in the nearby radio, the beauty, the weather was real nice that morning, it really was idyllic. When we think about life in North America, that’s it. That news item on the radio, nearly 900 persons had committed suicide because of a belief in one individual. Wow, if we can talk about reality as art, then as far as I am concerned, that’s an art piece. So, it’s the only time… There were other times like seeing one of Marcel Duchamp’s slides, but that’s superficial. That very moment, something serious changed inside of me. And when I think about the kind of things I am trying to do with my photo images, with my installations, I’m trying to reproduce that very moment in time, one way or another.