À Vancouver

@ 7pm

The Vancouver premiere of a new work by Toronto-base artist Vincent Chevalier.
The screening will be followed by a talk by the artist.

À Vancouver is an experimental video essay based in autobiography and interviews with my father about our familial and individual sexual histories. Blending documentary and fiction, the video examines and expands on parallel events in both of our lives, wherein we each traveled across Canada to Vancouver  and had formative (homo)sexual experiences at separate moments in time: my father as an 18-year-old traveling in the mid-60s and myself as a teen and then an adult in the mid-90s and 2000s. This story is told in French and English voiceover with subtitles and live action re-enactment of fictionalized events.

My father told me the story of his trip to Vancouver when, as a teenager, I came out to him. In 1964 he hitchhiked across the country with ‘nothing but $40 in his pocket.’ There he traded sex for sleep, contemplated suicide, and had profound thoughts on what his future would bring. Years later I travelled to Vancouver several times, living there first as a teen, and then spending several months there in my twenties grappling with addiction and my fears of no future. A shared narrative of isolation, trauma, non-belonging, and hope emerges from these experiences.

In the film our conversations take place over imagery of a cold and rainy Vancouver. This is both an intimate and touristic portrait of the city, etched from our shared memories and a portrait of a time and place that has shaped our two lives. Through this I’ve explored the binary meanings of the phrase “À Vancouver”. One (French for “to Vancouver”) speaks to a destination. The second, a neologism (avancouver or “not/against Vancouver”) to a place unfixed in space. It is both of the city but not the city. The story navigates two language, English and French, generations, family, cities and time. This father/son dialogue evokes a loss of culture and language – the impossibility of trading or changing the past.

The immutability of the past is nowhere more present than in our discussion of a singlularly formative memory, my HIV diagnosis at 19. My father misremembers the timeline, asking “is your AIDS thing related to Vancouver?” I lived in Vancouver at 11, and the trauma of that period is revealed to be something much darker. AIDS, as a setting, locates and lingers over everything in a young queer man’s life. AIDS and its evocation of queerness, otherness, isolation stands as an immovable barrier to communication. In the end, how do you give of yourself when you can no longer be sure of what will have been?”

About the Artist

Vincent Chevalier is an artist who melds autobiography, documentary research, and appropriated media to construct uncanny works on screen. This practice has roots in his earliest experiments with performance and video. Known for his videos and digital interventions, these projects constitute an autoethnographic study of AIDS and queer sexuality as they relate to personal narratives and larger social, political, and historical contexts.Since graduating from Concordia University in 2011, his videos and artworks have exhibited internationally at venues including the Australian Cinematheque, Oberhausen Kurzfilmtage, Deutsche Hygiene Museum, DePaul Art Museum, NYC Porn Film Festival, Dirty Looks: On Location, Vtape, and Buddies In Bad Times Theatre. He is currently based in Toronto.

Directed, Edited, and Shot by Vincent Chevalier

Featuring Vincent and Guy Chevalier, David C. Jones, and Xavier de Salaberry

Music by James Murray


Vancouver Crew

Cinematography by Brianne Nord-Stewart

Sound by Riel McGuire

Production Design by Harry Brar

Script Development by Evan Webber

Translation by Jordan Arseneault

The production of À Vancouver would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts
Soundtrack by James Murray available at Jacktone Records 

Text by Vincent Chevalier in Drain Magazine: AIDS and Memory