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Denis Beaubois

b. 1970

The city is watching. As the technologies of surveillance have multiplied and spread through the environment, so too the relationship between the individual and the state has become increasingly complex. Dennis Beaubois explores this relationship, finding within it the possibility for poetry and anarchy. In The Event of Amnesia the City Will Recall [1996-97] records the staging of a performance that occurred at 12 sites of video surveillance over a number of days. Beaubois is seen standing completely still in the windswept no-man's lands of office forecourts and atria in full view of surveillance cameras. The artist holds a placard that reads WARNING: YOU MAY BE PHOTOGRAPHED READING THIS SIGN. The artist then attempts to engage the cameras in a “dialogue” – asking for copies of the video footage being recorded by the security cameras, asking the camera to move up and down if “it” agrees, or side to side if “it” refuses. Partly comical, decidedly chilling, the video is a fascinating record of an encounter with a dehumanising apparatus that is, through the act of communication, humanised. Watching Beaubois being watched evokes an uncanny sense of disembodiment in the viewer. This sensation recurs in later works such as Constant [2004] - made while in residency with the University of NSW Forensic Psychology department - morphing through photographs of 13,000 human faces. Although there is a degree of recognition in watching the faces slowly merge with others, it soon becomes apparent that the only constant is the viewer, the unseen face in the equation. 


This exploration of the notion of embodiment formed the basis for many of Beaubois’s later video projects. The Translation Series explored the relationship between recording an experience – in this case writing, an act itself witnessed by a camera -Writing V1 [2000] and Writing V3 [2001] – and describing it – such as where the artists places a camera inside his mouth - As it Happens [2001] - and attempts to speak. Among the artist’s most compelling video works are those that describe an action that evoke a visceral reaction. Portrait of a Guilty Man [2006] is the record of a small wireless camera being repeatedly thrown at a man’s head until the camera breaks. One cannot help but wince at every impact. In The Fall from Raiatea [2007] - in which a light weight camera is thrown from the top of a high rise building - this kind of reaction is taken to a dramatic extreme. Designed as a five screen installation, the images are grainy and broken up, static interference and noise corrupting the images. The formal qualities of the work are exquisite but once the camera goes over the edge the viewer feels as though they are falling. For a moment the distance between the viewer and the screen dissolves as terror takes over.

Andrew Frost
Birth place
Period of activity 
from 1997
Other works 

Selected solo/group exhibitions: The Terminal Vision Project, Performance Space, Carriage Works, Sydney, Workin’ Down Under, Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh, Zone V2, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Face Value, New Zealand Portrait Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand, Recontres Internationales Paris, Berlin, Paris, France, Deaf 07 Festival – Interact or Die, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2007. The Terminal Vision Project, Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo, Space 2006 Biennial of Art in Public Space, Christchurch, New Zealand, Pulsar Caracas 2006, Venezuela, Glass Kultur, Koldo Mitxelena, San Sebastian, Spain, The Cleveland Street Projects, The Performance Space, Sydney, 5th Emirates Film Festival, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 2006.

Other group exhibitions 

2004Transmediale (Strictly public program) Berlin. 

2005Adelaide Film Festival, Australia. Santiago Biennale, Chile. OK video Festival, Indonesia.

2006:SCAPE Biennial of Art in Public Space, New Zealand. Glass Kulture Koldo Mitxelena in San Sebastian, Spain. Youkobo Art Space, Tokyo (as part of an Asialink residency). Rencontres internationale Paris, Berlin. 

2007: Zone V2, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei. Workin Down Under, Wood St Galleries, Pittsburgh USA. 

2008: Video Logic, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Australia. Zero1 Biennale, San Jose, USA. 

2009 Critical fixtures, RMIT gallery, Melbourne. Superlight, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, USA.  

Selected publications: In The Event of Amnesia the City Will Recall, catalogue, Zone V2, 2007. Don’t Misbehave, catalogue, Scape, 2006. Face Value: Video Portraiture from The Pacific, catalogue, 2005. Surveillance and the Ludic Reappropriation of Public Space, Open #6, 2004.  

1 January 1997
Commonwealth Foundation2-Beaubois, – from In the event of Amnesia the city will recall…, via Vimeo 
From Fall From Matavai, via d'archive
From Fall From Matavai, via d'archive – from Fall From Matavai, via d/Archive 
From Constant, via d'archive
From Constant, via d'archive – from Constant, via d/Archive