Vincent Grenier










My work is fascinated by contingencies: digressive moments, unbalanced spaces, assymetrical compositions, revealing details, incongruous recordings, and unexpected linkages between form and meaning.   My compositions operate as a series of short circuitings Mand rewirings of expectations of unified cinematic space and time. Instead, they create visual movements comprised of both experiential and physical interactions with the image and philosophical queries into the nature of representation.

My work plays off the contradictions between my artistic intentions and the physical results of shooting: these divergences generate useful accidents that reveal much more complex ideas about the forms and structures of daily life.   The spectator's assumptions and ideologies are made to collide with the cinematographer's mechanics and aesthetics. These conflicting agendas have formed the foundation of my artistic work for over thirty years.   They draw attention to how larger cultural and social constructs commingle in a myriad of permutations condensed into the visual.

My work eschews the deductive straight lines of arguments, specific judgments and conclusions. Rather, the cinematic, as figured in my body of work, is not located as a fixed and static object, but as an opening for transformative possibilities. Evoking the juxtapositions of the Zen Buddhist koan, my work shakes the patina of the everyday into a humorous and poetic awareness of the present.
My works directly confront the ideas of spatiality and temporality as a continuum and unsettle the notion of a universal human experience.   Instead, my work moves towards fracturing space and time in order to release how the everyday and the specific hold within them ineffable, untranslatable, visual mappings that can provoke revelations into light, color, form, and composition. -VG


Vincent Grenier was born in Quebec City, Canada. He has lived largely in the US. mostly New York City and now Ithaca, NY. In spite of this, he was a frequent contributor to the Montreal Art scene of the 70's and 80's. He has made experimental films since the early seventies when he received an MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in California. Grenier's films have been shown in the United States, Canada and Europe at showcases such as the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the Anthology Film Archives, the Pacific Film Archives, the Collective for Living Cinema and Cinéma Parallel in Montréal. His films and videos have earned him nine production grants from the Canada Council in the period between 1974 and1992, and in New York State, from CAPS (1979), NYFA (1995), ETC (1992 & 1994), NYSCA (2007-2008) and John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2010-2011).

He has made over two dozen films and since the late 90's more than a dozen videos. Many of these videos were chosen in yearly selections of Grenier's work at key avant garde film festivals such as Views from the Avant Garde of the New York Film Festival , the Rotterdam Film Festival, in the Netherland, the Onion City Film Festival, Chicago, and Media City Film and Video Festival, Windsor, Ontario. Grenier's films and videos were the subjects of retrospectives at Media City, Windsor, Ontario and Images Film & Video Festival's Canadian Images Spotlight, Toronto, both in 2006. Seven of his films & videos were curated in the Whitney Museum of American Art 1970-2000 American Century Film program. Films by Grenier are included in the Donell media library in NYC, the National Film Archive, Ottawa, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, AGO, Toronto and at many other institutions in Canada and the US.

LES CHAISES, (9 min 2008), earned Jury's Choice, one of the first prizes, Black Maria Film Festival 2009, and Honorable Mention at Media City Film & Video Festival, Windsor ON; TABULA RASA (7.5 min. 2004), 2 nd prize Media City Festival, Windsor, Canada; Views from the Avant Garde, New York Film Festival and Onion Film & Video Festival, HERE (6.5 min, 2002) Awarded Gold for best Experimental film, New York Film Expo, COLOR STUDY (4.5 min, 2000) Rotterdam Film festival, London and Toronto Film Festivals , Lincoln Center, Second prize at the Black Maria Film Festival and MATERIAL INCIDENTS, (6 min. 2001), Rotterdam Film Festival. & New York Video Festival, FEET (27 min., video, 1994) won second prize at the 1995 Black Maria Festival and was shown in the WNET series Reel NY. His films include: OUT IN THE GARDEN (1991)--Best Documentary, 1992 Ann Arbor Film Festival, Best Experimental Documentary, 16th Atlanta Film/Video Festival, shown on WNET and London Film Festival; YOU (1990)--Black Maria Festival; TIME'S WAKE--(1987) Prize Winner Black Maria Festival; INTERIEUR INTERIORS (1978)--Prize Winner, San Francisco Are institute Film Festival; WORLD IN FOCUS (1976) Second Prize Winner, Ann Arbor Film Festival; and WINDOW WIND CHIMES (1974)-- Prize Winner, Bellevue Film Festival in Oregon.

Grenier curently teaches at Binghamton University and lives in Ithaca New York.

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" Perhaps gentler at first glance but possibly harboring a wicked passive-aggressive streak, the recent video works by Vincent Grenier have consistently been highlights of the Views line-up, and this year was no exception. Grenier has been making witty, elegant experimental films and videos for over 30 years, and his approach has always been defined by its eclecticism. His earlier film works partake of the orthodoxies of experimental film history but refuse to be defined by it. For example, 1978's Interieur Interiors (To AK) is a high-modernist exploration of adjacent geometrical planes, an intimate domestic study, and a collection of wry perceptual miscues organized not unlike a series of blackout sketches. Works from the early 90s such as Out in the Garden and You display a sensitivity to portraiture that allows figure and landscape to merge and separate in a kind of mitosis / meiosis. And most recently Grenier's career has been characterized by a rigorous exploration of digital video and its unique properties. Rather than attempting to duplicate the style of his films by other means, as many film-turned-videomakers have done, he has embraced video's defining traits - relative flatness, a capacity for inner framing and image juxtaposition, and a more tightly controlled capability for superimposition - in order to produce video artworks distinguished by their subtlety and grace, to say nothing of their quirky humor. Where video has been an impediment to others, it has expanded Grenier's creative vocabulary." -- Michael Sicinski, Green Cine Daily, NYFF 07' Views 3

“Vincent Grenier is one of the most rigorous filmmakers of the experimental cinema and one of the most ingenious by the simplicity with which the questions of time and movement are accessed and put into images and sounds. Québécois, Vincent Grenier has lived in the US between Ithaca, NY and Binghamton where he teaches and works. Since his beginnings, he engages with the essential questions of cinema, in particular light and projected shadows, the outline of a given space, duration. The strategies used are always simples: time is at the heart of all of his films, reconstituting each time a ritual; his camera is attentive to the minute movement, the least displacement. Since his very first films, Grenier focuses his interest on the simple gestures of the everyday. To dissolve the abstraction, to draw one’s attention on the minute details which when filmed, become very poetic and reveal the individual behind the mechanical and the routine…” -- Nicole Gingras, La revue de la Cinémathèque, Montréal, Nov. 1991

“Vincent Grenier est l’un des cinéastes les plus rigoureux du cinéma expérimental et l’un des plus ingénieux par la simplicité avec laquelle les questions de temps, de mouvements sont abordées et mises en images et en sons. Québécois, Vincent Grenier vit aux Etats-Unis entre lthaca, New York et Binghamton où il enseigne et travail. Depuis ses débuts, il aborde les questions essentielles au cinéma, à savoir la lumière et les ombres projetées, la définition d'un espace ou d'une forme dans un es­pace donné, la durée. Les stratégies utilisées sont toujours simples: le temps est au cœur même de tous ses films, reconstituant à chaque fois un rituel ; sa caméra est attentive au moindre mouvement, au moindre déplacement. Depuis ses tout premiers films, Vincent Gre­nier s'intéresse au mouvements simples du quo­tidien. Dissoudre l'abstraction, attirer l'attention sur les plus infinis détails qui, lorsque filmés, deviennent très poétiques et révèlent l’individu caché derrière le mécanique et le routinier…”  -- Nicole Gingras, La revue de la Cinémathèque, Montréal, Nov. 1991


Vincent Grenier was born in Quebec City, Canada. He has lived largely in the US, mostly New York City. In spite of this, he was a frequent contributor to the Montreal Art scene of the 70’s and 80’s as well as the SF bay areas where he received an MFA at the San Francisco Art Institute in the early 70's. Grenier's experimental films and videos have earned numerous awards and have shown in North America, Europe and China at major museums, showcases and festivals. Grenier has made over two dozens films and since 1990 videos. His work was recently the subject of retrospectives at Media City, Windsor, Ontario and Images Film & Video Festival's Canadian Images Spotlight, in Toronto. He has received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2010. He lives in Ithaca NY and teaches at nearby Binghamton University. 

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Here, and There: An Interview with Vincent Grenier for an Exhibition in China. -- Katy Martin. Millenium Film Journal No. 53, Fall / Winter 2011.

WNYC Thirteen

This page was updated on 8/8/2011