Untitled by Donigan Cumming
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Gelatin silver print
From the series "Reality and Motive in Documentary Photography Part 2"
Signed, dated, and annotated, "514-12", in pencil, au verso
Printed in 1984
The work of Donigan Cumming (b. 1947) deals with themes of the body, truth and fiction, taboos of representation, and social engagement. In 2005, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto) presented Moving Pictures, a major exhibition which coincided with the publication of the DVD collection titled Donigan Cumming: Controlled Disturbance (Vidéographe). Among his solo exhibitions are Reality and Motive in Documentary Photography (OK Harris and 49th Parallel, New York and Centre national de la Photographie, Paris, 1986), The Mirror, the Hammer and the Stage (The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, 1990), Diverting the Image (Art Gallery of Windsor and CIAC, 1993), Pretty Ribbons (Les Rencontres internationales de la photographie d’Arles, 1994), Moving Stills(Mois de la Photo à Montréal, 1999 and International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2000) and Donigan Cumming : preuves nouvelles et choses trouvées and Kincora 2010 (Cinémathèque québécoise, Montreal, 2010). In 2011, Cumming and Matthieu Brouillard conceived a co-curated, two-person exhibition to explore the intersections of their work. This resulted in a touring show and artists’ book: Coming Through the Fog: Les rencontres de Donigan Cumming et Matthieu Brouillard (Sagamie édition d’art, 2012).
Cumming’s work has been the subject of critical examinations and retrospectives, including programs at the Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley, 2002) and at Visions du Réel (Switzerland, 2002), as well as monographs among which are Pretty Ribbons (Stemmle, 1996), Gimlet Eye (Chapter Arts Centre and Ffotogallery, Cardiff, 2001) and La somme, le sommeil, le cauchemar (Centre culturel canadien, Paris, 2006). Numerous theoretical works and reference books address his work, including Contemporary Photographers (St. James Press, 1996), The Photography Book (Phaidon, 1997), Art and Photography (Phaidon, 2003), Faking Death: Canadian Art Photography and the Canadian Imagination (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003), Das Lexikon der Fotografen (Knaur, 2003), The Photobook: A History, Volume 2 (Phaidon, 2006), Scissors, Paper, Stone: Expressions of Memory in Contemporary Photographic Art (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007), Touching Surfaces. Photographic Aesthetics, Temporality, Aging(Rodopi, 2008), 100 Video Artists/100 video artistas (EXIT Publicaciones, 2009), The Visual Arts in Canada: The Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press, 2010), Splitting the Choir: The Moving Images of Donigan Cumming(Canadian Film Institute, 2011), Une Collection. Maison européenne de la photographie (Actes Sud, 2015), and The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Photography (Thames & Hudson, 2015). A new scholarly study by Élène Tremblay, Université de Montréal, focuses on the figure of the afflicted body, as represented in the work of Donigan Cumming, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Gillian Wearing. Inspired by Cumming’s Karaoke, Tremblay’s L'insistance du regard sur le corps éprouvé. Pathos et contre-pathos was selected by an international advisory committee as the fourth title in the film studies series Cinethesis (Udine: Forum, 2013).
Cumming has published several artist’s books, including The Stage(Maquam Press, 1991), Lying Quiet (The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 2004), Kincora (Maquam Press, 2008), Pencils, Ashes, Matches & Dust (J’ai VU, 2009), and Kerr's Suitcase (Maquam Press, 2015). His work can be found in the collections of major institutions in Quebec, Canada, and abroad. Cumming lives and works in Montreal.
- Artist CV (PDF)
Donigan Cumming’s Photography of the Absurd - TIME, 20 March, 2014“Pencils, Matches, Ashes & Dust”: Donigan Cumming - BorderCrossings, May 2010