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0:00 : The title of the video appears.
00:14 : The first 40 seconds of the video consist of a single shot taken from a moving vehicle.
00:30 : “I almost ran over Liza Minnelli today.”
00:39 : “I had just got back from Chrome City.”
00:40 : Slowly, the image expands. The video shot from the vehicle is playing on a television set.
00:45 : “I had been to the funeral of an old friend who had been fumigated to death accidentally.”
00:55 : The expanding image reveals a man at the left of the screen. His back is to the camera. His face is visible as a reflection in the mirror in front of him.
01:05 : “Her house had termites.”
01:08 : The image stops expanding.
01:11 : “She was upstairs when the fumigators came.”
01:20 : The rest of the video excerpt shows the character putting on makeup and jewellery while he speaks to the audience.
01:20 : “They sealed off the house and pumped it full of poison gas.”
01:40 : “They found her the next day slumped underneath her hair dryer.”
02:06 : “The workmen claim that they knocked several times on the door to see if anyone was home, but they received no answer.”
02:37 : “It is a two-day drive to Chrome City and I was very tired.”
02:48 : “I was at Hollywood and Vine.”
03:10 : “I had the National Enquirer on the seat beside me with the Farah Fawcett-Majors headline.”
03:25 : “I just glanced at it when suddenly she was right in front of me.”
03:38 : “I slammed on the breaks and I managed to stop the car.”
03:48 : “I rolled down my window and I tried to explain to Miss Minnelli that I had just glanced at the Farah Fawcett-Majors headline, but she just smiled, and didn’t seem to want to hear my explanation.”
04:22 : The character turns off the television, which is on his right.
04:35 : “She’s not as pretty as her pictures.”
04:57 : “I was pleased when the young couple from next door asked me to go to supper with them at the Ships restaurant.”
05:12 : “I especially enjoy going to Ships restaurant because each table has its own toaster…”
05:25 : “…and the service is very efficient.”
05:38 : “I don’t really approve of young people living with each other when they’re not married.”
05:55 : “In fact I’ve suggested several times that they do get married.”
06:06 : “But they just laugh at me and say that I’m old-fashioned.”
06:30 : The character puts on a blond wig.
06:51 : “I’ve always thought of myself as being very modern.”
07:01 : End of the excerpt.
(Reston, Manitoba, 1942 – Toronto 2001)
Hollywood and Vine
Videotape, black and white, 18 min on Betacam SP sub-master
Purchased in 1978
National Gallery of Canada, 28344
© Estate of Colin Campbell
The video Hollywood and Vine erodes the boundaries of masculinity and femininity. In the excerpt presented, the artist stands with his back to the camera, which captures the reflection of his face in a mirror. He puts on makeup, earrings and a blond wig, gradually becoming the Woman from Malibu, an alter ego he developed in California in 1976 and 1977. By demonstrating the process of his transformation, Campbell depicts gender as a series of artifices, rather than as an innate condition. The character’s monologue, constructed from snippets of conversations, ranges between absurd and tragic.
A pioneer of video art in Canada, Colin Campbell began exploiting this medium in the early 1970s, when the use of video in the visual arts was still very marginal. Starring in almost all of his works, Campbell staged himself in drag to bring multiple personae to life. His importance in the history of Canadian art extends to educational endeavours, as the founder of the Visual Studies Program at the University of Toronto and a founding member of Vtape, a leading distributor of Canadian video art. Campbell’s humorous works foster new understanding of identities and desires.