In The Presentation of Self, sociologist Erwin Goffman presents social life as a kind of theatre. When an individual makes a gaff in a social situation, this produces a ‘contradictory representation, a questioning of common reality, causing general unease’. [Translation from fr.wikipedia.org] In Le canari, I continue my study of the pathetic body by playing, in a minimal way, an agitated canary batting its wings in a corner of a concrete wall. The camera is positioned high above, giving a birds-eye view of the canary. I accelerated the speed of my movements slightly when editing and used the high-pitched squawks of caged canaries—recorded in a public market—for the soundtrack.
Humour and self-depreciation allow me to distance myself from these images in which I depict myself as pathetic (as in Youhou, Infortunes 1 and Le canari). When contemplating such an image, the audience finds itself in the uncomfortable role of voyeur and in an unbalanced relationship of domination. The viewer’s discomfort is perceptible and twofold; it is caused by being made to witness a person being ridiculed and by empathetically identifying with that person’s vulnerability.