Nelson Henricks

Life Session

2-minute 16mm film loop + drawings
March 25 - April 23, 2016

Life Session
Life Session
Life Session
Life Session
Life Session: Shot 19
Life Session
Life Session
Life Session

Life Session

Life Session, 2016
graphite on paper
(detail)
9 x 12 inches, each sheet

Life Session is based on the first two minutes of a 1970s gay porn film. Shot on Super8, the original 10-minute film takes place in an artist’s studio: we see an artist drawing a live model, close-ups of the charcoal drawings he is executing, and shots of the model looking back at the artist. With the aid of several assistants, Henricks has made pencil drawings of every second frame of this two-minute excerpt. The exhibition at Paul Petro Contemporary Art will feature a 16mm loop of the redrawn animated sequences intercut with the live action footage from the original film, as well as a series of preparatory drawings. Life Session examines the myth of the artist in popular culture via the framework of an artist drawing a film of an artist drawing a model.

Nelson Henricks would like to thank Concordia University Part-Time Faculty Professional Development for their support of this project.



An artist, writer, musician and curator, Nelson Henricks was born in Bow Island, Alberta in 1963. After studies at the Alberta College of Art and Design (1986), he moved to Montreal (1991), where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in film studies from Concordia University (1994).

For over thirty years, he has developed a dense and complex body of works based on such themes as the visual representation of sound, the passage of time, language and gender identities. Ranging from single-channel videotapes to multi-channel installations, his works have been presented in several solo and group exhibitions in Canada and abroad, at such sites as the Glenbow Museum in Calgary (2014), the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2011), the South London Gallery in England (2013), the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery in Montreal (2010), the Francesco Pantaleone Gallery in Palermo, Italy (2009), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2004), the Seoul Museum of Art in Korea (2002), the Artists’ Outlet in Toronto (2001), and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York as part of the Video Viewpoints series (2000).

His video works have also been screened at numerous festivals, including the Torino GLBT Film Festival in Italy (2009), the Brussels International Independent Film Festival in Belgium (2004), the Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and New Media (2002), and the Palermo International Video Art, Film and Media Festival in Italy (1998).

His writings have been published in such magazines as Esse, Parachute, Fuse and Public, and in the anthologies So, to Speak (Artexte, 1999), Lux: A Decade of Artists’ Film and Video (YYZBOOKS, 2000), and Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Performance by Canadian Women (YYZBOOKS, 2004). He also co-edited, with Steve Reinke, the anthology By the Skin of Their Tongues: Artist Video Scripts (YYZBOOKS, 1997).

Over the course of his career, he has earned numerous distinctions, including the Prix SODEC for Crush (1997), named Best Video at the 16th Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois in 1998. The following year, Le temps passé (1998) won the Telefilm Canada Award at the Images Festival in Toronto, and another award at the Festival international d’arts numériques Vidéoformes in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Planetarium (2001) won the “Auteur Vidéo” prize at the 17th Festival vidéo d'Estavar-Llivia (France-Spain). In 2002, he was the recipient of the Bell Canada Award in Video Art, and in 2005 he received the Board of Governors’ Alumni Award of Excellence from the Alberta College of Art and Design. In 2010, the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery presented a mid-career retrospective curated by Steve Reinke, accompanied by a publication: Time Will Have Passed/Le temps aura passé.

Since 1995, Nelson Henricks has taught at Concordia University. He is currently completing a PhD in Artistic Studies and Practices at the Université du Québec à Montréal.