or under the right conditions, the human imagination is a very hard-working labourer
For a moment, the public is assured about the experience of life liberated from its straightjacket. In a game that constantly begins anew, actions mime upheaval – replete with the sacred – according to Michel Leiris’ meaning of the term in L’homme sans honneur in 1938. He saw the sacred as springing back into everyday life. For him (as for the revolutionaries of the years 1950-1960), the sacred was less the color of incense and more about game and poetry.
L’ordre sauvage, Laurence Bertrand Dorléac, 2004
It goes without saying that, in front of the public, the performer’s authority is purely fictional. Hugo Nadeau’s performance practice confirms this.
By appropriating codes imposed by invisible hands, Nadeau signals that individuals can do whatever they want with those cumbersome constraints. The caustic humour that emerges from his performance universe forms the basis for a clever critique of absolutist systems that impose, more often than not, abstruse rules, diffuse laws and fanatical customer service.
Hugo Nadeau’s performances construct a new, systemic order from free associations that drawn at once from the symbolic, material, corporeal and perceptible realms. Here, the manifest intention is to re-enchant reality and welcome a world that embraces symbolic freedom: a wild order, cults and popular culture, the familiar and the mystical.
Formally, Nadeau draws from a vast repertoire of objects that over the years have become part of his multilayered performance vocabulary:
key – car – wallet – paper-structure – cash – skull – ascendant braid –
diamond-potato – coffee – beer – pepsi – toga – jacket-tie – podium – fire
– grey archives, yellow, white, black and orange –
logo – wings and flags – dunes – dada – Buddha
Indigenous people – First Nations
dystopian anarchist with two cut fingers
fathers and brothers
Decidedly syncretic, Nadeau’s references build new meanings through their interrelatedness. Every action within his performance framework follows a previous one in a timed enchaînement of events. According to the Centre National de ressources textuelles et lexicales, an “enchaînement” is defined as a “succession of multiple connections that follow the laws of harmony.” To witness this performance harmony is to experience the positive “mythocracy” proposed by the performance artist.
It goes without saying that she or he who attends a performance by Hugo Nadeau will not need to analyse it like we unfold answers to questions.
We cannot be pried open.
There is no plan here.
Translated by Amélie Jérôme
Centre national de ressources textuelles et lexicales. (2012). Enchaînement. In Consulted April 9: http://www.cnrtl.fr/lexicographie/enchaînement
Nicolas-Le Strat, P. (2010). Faire politique latéralement : la fonction intermédiatrice du récit. Le Commun, Octobre 2010. http://www.le-commun.fr/index.php?page=faire-politique-lateralement
 Bertrand Dorléac, L. (2004). L’ordre sauvage : violence, dépense et sacré dans l’art des années 1950-1960. Saint-Jost-La-Pendue : Gallimard. (my translation)
 Citton,Y. ( 2010). Mythocratie – Storytelling et imaginaire de gauche, (nouv. éd.). Paris : Éditions Amsterdam. “Mythocratie” is a French term coined by Yves Citton. “If it is necessary to analyze the soft power that guides our conduct in mass-media societies, it is less important to condemn its operations than to begin to select emancipatory tools from it. The first level of these instruments is the myth itself: it is the (emancipating) power of the narrative – the mythocracy – that we should use and understand. First of all, this implies equipping ourselves with a theory of (soft) power (…) Then we need to define a very specific dimension of humanist practices, a power of visualizing how our narratives and gestures condition the behaviour of others by making them part of a narrative current. Finally, this allows us to take on a reformulated political imagination that defines new tasks, new modes of intervention and new speech.” Source: https://www.fabula.org/actualites/y-citton-mythocratie-storytelling-et-imaginaire-de-gauche_35261.php
Working independently in the visual and media arts, performance and poetry, Hugo Nadeau has presented his projects across Canada, the United States, Brazil, Poland, England, Germany and China. He has been awarded bursaries and prizes locally, provincially and nationally. His multifaceted, conceptual vision of art has led him to found a series of open-ended projects such as Conspiration H1N1, Projet Citoyen Modèle, Édifice H. Nadeau pour la poésie, LHN (Ligue Hugo Nadeau) and the C.A.C.H.E. (Centre d’Art Caché d’Hugo pour l’Éternité), all with the goal of attaining an artistic autonomy of sorts. Nadeau is originally from Saint-Zacharie in Chaudières-Appalaches and currently lives in Montreal.
Born in Quebec City, Marie-Claude Gendron has an interdisciplinary practice in performance, social interventions, video, collage and media art. She is involved in organizing artist-run performance events and has participated in numerous residencies, exhibitions and events in Quebec, Brazil, Mexico, France, Italy, Northern Ireland, Switzerland and Thailand. Gendron’s work has been presented in group and solo exhibitions at Galerie de l’UQAM (Montreal), Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, Museo de medicinal laboral in Mexico, Galerie des arts visuels in Quebec City and at RIAP (Rencontres internationales d’art performance, Le Lieu, Quebec City) in 2012 and 2014. She is interested in how the body and the act of writing express various forms of poetry in action.