Sackville, I'm Yours
14:40 minutes black and white 1972

VIEW SCRIPT

An amusing portrait of an Art Star, toughing it out in rural New
Brunswick.

Sackville I’m Yours… is a masterpiece. Amusing, understated, it introduced many of the themes and issues that would occupy Campbell over the next two decades—this despite the many changes that would overtake both artist and medium. We see Campbell head-and-shoulders onscreen as he responds to (unheard) questions from an (unseen) reporter. He introduces himself as Art Star, and describes his life as a famous artist living in Sackville, New Brunswick. He mentions being invited to dinner at the home of the president of the university, where tuna casserole (!) was served. He refers to having his “own” parking spot on campus, and to hanging out with minorities there, like Linda Trentini, who’s Italian. And he points out that he’s on a first-name basis with “other” famous people in Canada’s art scene: Art Bank, for example, and Annie Brodzky of Artscanda magazine. This monologue is offered in the most modest manner, Art Star never condescends.

Of course Sackville was hardly an art center, and video was hardly an entry to stardom. As a “talking head,” Campbell mimicked the TV interview format, and his unclothed shoulders implied he was revealing ALL to the probing camera eye… all the truth, nothing to hide. It was exactly what the camera could not see, however—the body and the background, the mind behind the words-that remained at issue, and would so remain for both Campbell and for others.” (Peggy Gale, Invention Catalogue, Art Metropole, 1993)

“From the minimalist reinvention of himself as a New Brunswick Art-star reliving Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame north of the 49th parallel in Sackville I'm Yours… to his deadpan mimicry of the perfect Other as an ingenious Toronto office girl in Modern Love, Campbell plays back the cultural mythologies of the empire through the distortions of a local specificity.” (Requiem for a Modern Love by Dot Tuer, Media Works Colin Campbell, catalogue published by Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1991)

Sackville, I'm Yours... is a fifteen-minute masterpiece, one of Colin Campbell's earliest video works. Amusing and understated, it introduces many of the themes and issues that would occupy Campbell throughout his career: the ambivalent identity of the subject, the investigation of sexuality and gender, the glamorous public persona.

We see Campbell head-and-shoulders in a stark white studio. He introduces himself as Art Star, a famous artist living in Sackville (a small university town in Atlantic Canada), and he is responding to questions (unheard by the audience) of an invisible interviewer. He describes his fabulous lifestyle: tuna casserole with the university president, his own parking spot on campus, friendships with other famous people. He is elegance and composure personified. As a "talking head" Campbell plays with the conventions of television fame, and his unclothed shoulders imply he is revealing all to the probing camera eye: all truth, nothing to hide.

Of course, Sackville was hardly an art centre, and video was hardly an entry to art stardom at the time. Yet Campbell's engaging performance perfectly encapsulates the reality of Canada's art world. In 1972, artists created in isolation, while desiring connection with the entire world. As Bruce W. Ferguson notes, "Sackville, I'm Yours... shows clearly how Campbell has been able to continue to work from outside the dualistic model of modernist painting's forms; from outside the Canadian debate on national identity; from within the debates on gendered subjectivity and politics; from within the distresses of a masculinist culture; from outside the ideological and technological determinations of dominant cultures." As an opening salvo to a long career, Sackville, I'm Yours... set the terms.” (“Sackville I’m Yours” by Peggy Gale, www.videoart.virtualmuseum.ca)

Cast: Colin Campbell.

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