John Armstrong
Paul Collins

Jim (2002)
softcover book, offest printed
each 8 x 7.25 inches (20.4 x 18.4 cm)
Click to enlarge images↓→

Installation view of Jim
in The Ironic Turn,
Kunsthalle Erfurt, Germany (2003)
Selenium-toned gelatin sliver prints
and poster with 49 subjects

1. Jim

Jim → consists of two parts: a bookwork containing 98 paired images followed by approximately one hundred short English or French texts; and an exhibition of 49 gelatin silver prints — comprised of the 98 paired images.

Through this series of 98 paired photographs, we set out to explore the blurred edges of North American and European culture, of the familiar and the exotic, of our shared and individual experiences. The title of our project is Jim → (pronounced in a bilingual, “Jim, that way, par là”). This references the graffiti scratched into the gravestones of Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, pointing the way to Jim Morrison’s tomb.

We initially drew up a list of 49 words to serve as the 49 subjects of a series of photographs. Some of the subjects relate to motifs in our individual art practices; some are shared banalities and enthusiasms; others are figures that populate the professional life of an artist. We each shot in our respective cities: John in Toronto and Paul in Paris.

The resulting images were brought together, presenting two points of view of the same subject. The paired images playfully act as indicators of a specific moment or place. The viewer is naturally drawn into a guessing game, trying to identify the settings or locations pictured: Canada or France? Paris or Toronto? John or Paul? This task is variously easy, difficult or impossible.

The writing in our bookwork again documents our individual responses to the 49 subjects, mixing autobiographical detail with slice-of-life reporting, song lyrics and accounts of the visual arts milieu. The images and the writing are in separate sections of the bookwork in order to ensure that the writings do not serve as captions for the images. The bookwork is published by the Toronto literary press Coach House Books in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Sudbury.

Read Jim texts by John Armstrong & Paul Collins

Read a Globe and Mail review of Jim by Gary Michael Dault

Lisez Collins et Armstrong, « faux jumeaux » de Xavier Alexandre

Read Martha Langford's text on Jim from the catalogue Image & Imagination: Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal 2005

See John Armstrong & Paul Collins on the Centre for Canadian Contemporary Art website

9. Sorel Etrog
14. boss / patron
17. floor / sol
25. rad / radiateur