Publication ~ Big Stories

Robideau, Henri. Big Stories. Saskatoon: The Photographers Gallery. 2001. Paperback 6.5 inches x 7.25 inches, 80 pages, stitch binding, 63 black and white duo-tone photographs.

ISBN 0-9691504-3-1. Printed in an edition of 1,000. Price at time of release $19.95.

The epic drama of Henri Robideau's narratives The Crossroads of Life and Acts of God, beautifully presented in duo-tone reproductions. Edward Morose's essay, Big Story Blues, takes a look back at 20 years of Robideau's photographic work. A biographical chronology, gallery log and bibliography round out this volume produced for a 1998 solo show at the Photographers Gallery in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Major funding for this project provided by The Canada Council For The Arts.

  • What others have said about Big Stories

    Thanks to Chester Pelkey for collecting these responses:

  • Pat Close ~ Photographer, Regina

    Henri Robideau is unique, no other photographer chronicles the absurdity and manifest craziness of human endeavour with such candour. Big Stories is a feast for the mind, dripping with irony, served up with a delicious side of dark humour – the daily special at Life’s All Night Bar & Grill.

  • Ingrid Jenker ~ Director / Curator, Mount St. Vincent Gallery, Halifax

    Depending on where you open this book, things can start off like a vacation to Florida and end up like a case of black lung in a Sudbury mine. Or vice versa. Roving from the counter-cultures of sixties America and Canada’s West Coast to the French Canadian Diaspora, Henri Robideau retells from a worm’s eye view the national quest myths that have made and unmade him. In the book the reproduced photo narratives are accompanied by an interpretive essay, Big Story Blues, written by Edward Morose. Extending the musical analogy, one might say that the theme – Robideau’s photo-texts – is already a hybrid of standard tunes, complete with echoes of Robert Frank and the beat writers. Robideau has a satirist’s appreciation of the absurd and he writes well. His stuff is funny. Morose contributes a straight man’s voice, the voice of the liberal humanist still angry with God. To the carnivalesque imagery and finely calibrated hyperbole of his subject, Morose adds a plea for a return to more authentic times, to individualism, to the artist as archetypal man. Was it an act of God that put these two together? Morose wants to believe. Robideau doesn’t. So Robideau, plays counterpoint to his interpreter. He fictionalizes the document, sends up the testimony and teaches his readers the pleasures of post-nostalgia.

  • Meeka Walsh ~ Editor, Border Crossings Magazine, Winnipeg

    Henri Robideau is a moral iconoclast, an eccentric visual voice of conscience. Edward Morose’s text is the ideal parallel companion. Together they traverse a terrain that might have been occupied by Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac. The project could be called ‘The Canadians.'

  • Geoffrey James ~ Photographer and Writer, Toronto

    This book has everything in it – sex, humour, pathos, epic failure.

  • George Steeves ~ Photographer, Halifax

    The nightmare paradise of Henri Robideau’s hard-edged grotesquery delights and appalls wickedly, sharply, disturbingly funny, and compassionately poignant by turns.

  • Michel Campeau ~ Photographe, Montréal

    Tour à tour, entre Vancouver et Montréal, Henri Robideau s’est fait diariste, bédéiste et amuseur public. Muni de ses outils de prestidigitation que sont les images, les mots, le réel et sa mémoire vive, réinventant à son histoire une cohérence, il caricature et pourfend notre démesure épouvantablement humaine, gigantesque. Son âme est sensiblement amusée. Quant à la notre, elle s’accroche à ce sourire narquois sure l’expérience de vivre.

    Back and forth, between Vancouver and Montreal, Henri Robideau turned himself into a diarist, a cartoonist, and a public entertainer. With his magic kit – images, words, reality, and a vivid memory – putting some coherence into history, he caricatures and destroys our immense and appallingly human excessiveness. His soul is noticeably amused. As for ours, it clings to this sardonic smile about the experience of living.

  • Martha Langford ~ Critical Writer / Curator, Montréal

    Postcolonialism and the life of the artist – could there be two more fun subjects for a rainy Montreal afternoon? Henri Robideau says, A plague on all your houses. Then he moves in. The thing about these picture-stories is that they all make sense, even the part where he wins the Stanley Cup. I believe it. As for Edward Morose, no other Canadian writer could have untangled the twists and turns of these tales. He should get the Stanley Cup too

  • Robert Del Tredici ~ Photographer, Montréal

    In Big Stories Henri Robideau does a raunchy post –modern double take on the under whelming glory of civilization. His interlinked photos and text hit home like a fusillade of rubber bullets.

  • Marian Penner Bancroft ~ Photographer and Arts Educator, Vanocouver

    Henri Robideau has created through words and pictures, ironic, epic and bittersweet tales of love and loss in North America. Drawn from a life marked by multiple homelands, characters, struggles and victories, this beautifully printed small volume is dense with humour, history and what Robideau calls monstrous questions. Big Stories is a wondrously detailed journey through the big picture.

  • Martha Hanna ~ Director, Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa

    Henri Robideau’s photographs and text make me laugh, till I cry. In this publication we once again join Henri on his travels, this time (in Big Stories) on a more personal, biographical journey that explores the absurdities of life and the reality of our time.

  • Helen Marzolf ~ Director / Curator, Dunlop Gallery, Regina

    Photographer Henri Robideau and his essayist – biographer – cohort Edward Morose have assiduously sifted the hard-living decades since coming of age in the legend spawning 1960’s. Unsatisfied with mainstream cultural mythologies these two have created Big Stories, a small book-bomb of truant insight that teases out the possibilities for the search for meaning. A sardonic diary of the everyday absurdities we all take for granted – or rely upon.