True / False
9 minutes black and white BETA SP 1972

VIEW SCRIPT

In True/False, the artist makes a number of potentially revealing statements about himself, then verifies each statement as "true", and disqualifies each statement as "false." A play on the adage that the camera does not lie (but the artist probably does).

“One of Campbell’s earliest tapes where the artist makes a number of potentially revealing statements about himself, then verifies each statement as “true,” and disqualifies each statement as “false.” A play on the adage that the camera does not lie (but the artist probably does.)” (“Colin Campbell Media Works” catalogue published by Winnipeg Art Gallery)

“In True/False he does not catalogue facts, but seen in profile and then full face he firmly enunciate a litany of potentially embarrassing ideas, only to follow each sentence with “True False”. We are left knowing little about his real activities, as each statement is equally confirmed then denied, but we find ourselves speculating about which of the options might be the most true, and why these particular small facts should be seen as significant to the man listing them off.” (‘I am Here, This is Real’ by Peggy Gale from Film/Video/Photography, Art Gallery of Ontario,1978)

“When actors are "playing themselves," it may be difficult to separate truth from fiction. Truth, in any case, is often dubious or open to question. Colin Campbell, for example, in True/False (1972), faces the camera to make fifteen unequivocal statements. After each he says, "True." Then he adds, "False." Are they all true? Or all false? Most likely, the statements are both true and false, a confession taking several points of view.” (“The Stories Within Us” by Peggy Gale, www.videoart.virtualmuseum.ca)

“In True/False the artist addresses the camera both frontally and in profile with a confession, the elements of which are repetitively affirmed and denied: ‘I snort coke. True. False. I collect pornography. True. False.’ The artist offers us the evidence of his "nature" with one hand, and then countermands the evidential status of his confession with the other… Within this simple but rich work Colin Campbell lays out a set of concerns which will characterize all subsequent work: a focus upon the relationship between truth and subjectivity rather than the modernist concern with illusion and reality; the use of a confessional anecdotal autobiography which constantly confounds the privileged relationship between the interrogation of sexuality and the truth of subjectivity; the affectionate play with sexually and socially deviant identities—the centre stage of placing the "other"; the use of an involuted narrative which, in a complex double movement, takes us with disconcerting stealth from official history to personal fantasy and from the signifiers of innermost truth to the display of dissemblance.” (Strategies of Dissemblance” by Stuart Marshall in Colin Campbell Media Works” catalogue published by Winnipeg Art Gallery)

“The tone of the statements is matter-of-fact, as are the affirmations and denials, but the information itself seems potentially volatile; the statements—either true or false—could be understood only too readily as confession or self-portrait. Campbell is performing his lines, yet the starkness of his presentation as he faces the camera alone, and the nature of the information itself, lead the viewer to a position approaching that of a voyeur-or confidant. What are the viewer’s motives or responses, after all? The ambiguity of that position is to evoked often in the years to follow.

“A History in Four Movements” by Peggy Gale in Mirror Machine ed. Janine Marchessault)

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