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2 The Collected Writings of Michael Snow Although this strategy was certainly designed to alleviate Snow's discomfort with public speech, it also fixes the talks within the tradition of performance art. Finally, there are texts printed on record album covers that are meant to be read while one listens to Snow's music. This, of course, is not to say that all the texts fall into such special categories. In addition to less traditional forms, the book includes more typical essays, articles and interviews. However, the diversity of forms in which Snow's thoughts are conveyed is, perhaps, one of the most engaging and distinguishingcharacteristics of this book. But there are others. Unlike the more usual anthology, this book makes two other claims, simultaneously situatingit somewhere between a record of contemporary artistic thought by one of our leading Canadian artists and a history book revealing important moments in the cultural life of this country since the Fifties. It might be worth noting too that some of the writings collected here were done during the time of the Vietnam War, the Trudeau regime, and Snow's expatriate residence in the United States in the Sixties. Additionally, by means of this book we become better acquainted with Snow's many friends, including the late filmmaker Hollis Frampton, the late musician Larry Dubin, and the influential critics and curators who helped shape his career. Of special note is the tone and the vocabulary of many of the texts and dialogues in this book. In their own way, they also tell their own story, marking the passage of time, ideas and attitudes. Although many of the texts could be described as personal reflections and discourses on the ideas that condition Snow's art, there are some noteworthy exceptions . First of all, there are his writings about the work of such artists as Murray Favro, Tom Gibson and others. There are speeches Snow was invited to deliver on such occasions as the opening of exhibitions, the receipt of his honorary doctorate at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and the screening of his film Presents at Cerisy-la-Salle in France, where he met Jean-Fran9ois Lyotard and Jacques Derrida. These texts illustrate the context of Snow's work and show the evolution of his ideas. There are also scripts for his films Rameau's Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen and So Is This. The book's most important feature, however, is the history of a great Canadian artist, beginning with his early attempts at defining art and proceeding to his emergence and recognition on the international art scene through the success of Wavelength, his representation of Canada at the 1970 Venice Biennale and other major events and exhibitions such as the extensive survey of his work that toured Europe in the late Seventies and early Eighties. In contrast to the texts showing the professional and public side of the artist are some that allow glimpses into the private Snow. Often humorous, these are intimations of male desire and the ABC's of lovemaking. Like a series of secondary roads leading off the highway, they meander only to make the main roacl all the more true. But however much it is possible to rationalize the need for such a book - and for many others by Canadian artists - the primary impetus for assembling these texts came from the pleasure I drew from them and the wish to share that pleasure with others . Over the years I found that not only did they afford a chance to gain a better understanding of Snow's thought processes but they also enabled me to do so with an enormous amount of literary enjoyment. Furthermore, that enjoyment took nothing away from the seriousness or profundity of the ideas expressed. ...


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