Adad Hannah, Repairing the body, 2002. Digital video. 12 min. 47 sec. Digital video still.
Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain.
Adad Hannah, Repairing the body, 2002. Digital video. 12 min. 47 sec. Digital video still.
Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain.
Adad Hannah, Untitled (Age of Bronze), 2004. Digital video. 3 min. 35 sec. Digital video still.
Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain.
Adad Hannah, Break (with Iris), 2004. Digital video. 1 min. 28 sec. Digital video still.
Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain.
Adad Hannah, Burghers of Seoul, 2006. Digital video (double projection on two sides of screen) from the Recast and Reshoot series. 9 min. 14 sec.
Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain.
Adad Hannah, Restoration, 2002. Digital video. 12 min. 44 sec. Digital video still.
Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain.

Starting with Adad Hannah’s most recent piece, Burghers of Seoul, this exhibition brings together works by this artist that take as their point of departure narrative models or conventions stemming from the history of art. The idea of replaying and reconsidering conventions in order to recast them began with Museum Stills. Filmed in various museums, these videos form a series of tableaux vivants in which immobile “actors” re-contextualize painterly scenes or behaviours induced by the conventions of the image or the museum context. This line of study would continue with Burghers of Seoul, which gives us a video reconstruction of Auguste Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais (1884-1895). In the Museum Stills series, the camera remained still while the characters held their poses; with this later piece, however, Hannah filmed immobile bodies by making use of the moving image. In a continuous dolly shot, the camera moved around Rodin’s sculpture, capturing through its movement the six male bodies sculpted in stone. As the title indicates, the famous sculpture was thereby recast in a series of redistributions of roles and shots, with an initial reconstruction involving performances by motorcycle couriers in Seoul, South Korea. In this way, Hannah filmed something immobile so that it could be perceived in terms of movement. Rodin’s sculpture thereby became the point of departure for a narrative and temporal exploration that extended its potential for interpretation. This reconstruction of Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais re-actualizes the Modernist myth of the separation of the arts of time and space, and reintroduces the problem of narration posed by modernism.

– Marie Fraser


  • The ways in which this artist’s work prompts us to reflect on questions of time.
  • The artist’s use of quotation and appropriation in order to produce new and different meanings. Consider the videotaped juxtaposition of “tableaux vivants” alongside works of art exhibited in a museum or gallery setting.
  • The interconnectedness and the impact of performance, enactment, staging, and restaging in Hannah’s work and also explore ways in which this affects and enhances our reading of the images he presents us with.


  • How do Hannah’s video projections cause us to make associations between various temporal media such as photography, film, and video? What role does the camera play in these works?
  • In what ways does the artist’s staged presentation involving human beings encourage us to question our relationship to the human body, our own bodies, and our immediate environment(s)?
  • Projected video is full of legible and identifiable information. How does Hannah construct narrative in his work?

Curator: Marie Fraser, guest curator of Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal

Exhibition produced by the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery in conjunction with Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Centre Interuniversitaire des Arts Médiatiques (CIAM).

The Artist

Adad Hannah

Adad Hannah was born in New York in 1971, completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Vancouver at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and currently lives and works in Montreal where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2004.

Since the early 2000s, Adad Hannah has been working on his series Stills consisting of silent videos in which the worlds of photography and cinema coexist side by side. In static stagings reminiscent of 19th-century tableaux vivants, actors hold poses as if they were being photographed live. Only the oscillation of their bodies and the batting of their eyelids tell viewers that what they are seeing are videos. The artist’s approach causes us to reflect on the nature of video as a medium, and on what distinguishes it from photography, namely, movement and duration. This tension between immobility and movement confers on the images a strange narrative atmosphere in which suspended action stimulates anticipation. The actors’ furtive movements elicit heightened attention from viewers, leading them also to a state of concentration in which they scrutinize the images, on the lookout for the slightest variations. Adad Hannah has grouped his works under different themes, such as Museum Stills, Family Stills, Architectural Stills and Text Experiments. With Cuba Still (Remake) (2005), he delves into the realm of quotation by reinterpreting the advertising photographs for an unknown film. The installation comprises several videos projected on the same screen, in the process bringing together characters that were filmed separately in order to reconstruct the original composition. Hannah’s most recent project, Recast and Reshoot (2007), reactualizes Auguste Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais (1884-1886). Hannah made various Stills using different arrangements of actors playing the Burghers who sacrificed themselves for their city. Selecting his models from cities that own this sculpture, he explores the notion of citizenship in different cultural environments.


Adad Hannah. 22 August 2007

Fisher, Jennifer and Jim Drobnick. “Museum Vivant.” Adad 2002. 22 August 2007

Pauli, Lori, ed. Acting the Part: Photography as Theatre. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada; London: Merrell Publishers Limited, 2006.

Reinke, Steve. “Adad Hannah: Folk & Still.” Gallery TPW Online Essays. 2004. Gallery TPW. 22 August 2007

Tamir, Chen. “Adad Hannah: Posing the Question of All Time.” 2004. 22 August 2007

The Works

Burghers of Seoul, 2006

9 min. 14 sec.
digital video (double projection on two sides of screen) from the Recast and Reshoot series

Burghers of Seoul, produced in 2006, is both a continuation of and a departure from previous work. While the models remain still – or cast in bronze in the case of the sculpture – the camera moves. This is the fist time in about five years that I have made use of a moving camera. For Burghers of Seoul I put a circular track around Rodin’s Burghers of Calais sculpture and then slowly ran a camera around the track on a dolly. I then repeated this process using a group of South Korean motorcycle couriers posing as the sculpture. This project is part of ongoing research into this sculpture’s role in each of the twelve cities in which a cast is located. Seoul has the last cast (12/12) which was purchased by Samsung in the 1990s. It is housed in the Rodin Gallery, a building designed to accommodate the artist’s Burghers of Calais and Gates of Hell bronzes. I chose the couriers because of their physical likeness to the bronze burghers, and also because as motorcycle couriers in one of the world’s largest cities they could also be seen as unsung heroes, sacrificing their health and earning low wages in order to keep the city running. (Adad Hannah)

Age of Bronze, 2004

digital video (projection of 3 successive videos) from the Museum Stills series:

Break (with Iris), 1 min. 28 sec.
Untitled (Age of Bronze ), 3 min. 35 sec.
Security Passing, 2 min. 11 sec.

Age of Bronze is a series of three videos from the Stills series (a series that I refer to as my real-time video recorded tableaux vivants). It is composed of Break (with Iris), Untitled (Age of Bronze), and Security Passing. These pieces were produced in 2004 at the National Gallery of Canada. For this series I used people who work in the gallery as my models, in this case a museum security guard and Diana Nemiroff, Curator of Modern Art at that time. Because the videos are arranged in a chronological series of three, they take on a more narrative feeling than they might if they were shown individually. I wanted to have two things happen in this series: I wanted to clearly show a woman looking somewhat disdainfully at a nude male form (in a clear reversal of the standard male gaze throughout much of art history), and I wanted to present a subtle examination of employment hierarchies that exist within art institutions. (Adad Hannah)

Restoration and Repairing the Body, 2002

Repairing the Body, 2002, 12 min. 47 sec.
digital video, from the Museum Stills series

Restoration, 2002, 12 min. 44 sec.
digital video, from the Museum Stills series

Restoration and Repairing the Body were both produced in the restoration labs at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2002. The two pieces, also from the larger Stills series, were shot simultaneously from different angles. For the past five years I have been using two cameras on most of my shoots in order to take two angles at once. Most often one of the angles is the one I have planned, and the second is an experimental one that is decided upon at the time of shooting. Usually only one of the two angles is chosen for exhibition, however, these two seem to work together, revealing different parts of a single scene. The woman lying on the table works in the restoration labs. When I arrived at the labs to shoot she was working meticulously on cleaning and repainting damaged sections of a small painting. While I often dress the models who appear in my videos, she was already wearing a pair of interesting 19th century boots that I decided to use. The small key visible on a block of foam is the tool used to pull the many buttons through the buttonholes in order to fasten and unfasten the boots. At over 12 minutes each, these pieces are among the longest of my Stills videos. The main reason for this is logistical. I quickly realized that if the models posed for less than 10 minutes, I could usually ask them to pose a second time, whereas if the poses were longer they would be too fatigued to hold the pose a second time. Restoration and Repairing the Body are being exhibited for the first time. (Adad Hannah)



Fisher, Jennifer and Jim Drobnick. “Counterposes, a Curatorial Pose.” Introduction. Counterposes: Re-imagining Tableaux Vivants. Montréal: Oboro; Displaycult, 2002. 6-13.

Mayer, Marc. “The Emergence of Video Projection.” Introduction. Being & Time: The Emergence of Video Projection. Buffalo: Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, 1996. 28-33.

Raney, Karen. Introduction. Art in Question. Ed. Karen Raney. London: Continuum, 2003. 1-38.

Reinke, Steve. “Adad Hannah: Cuba Still (Remake)”. Image & Imagination. Ed. Martha Langford. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005. 223-26.

Rush, Michael. Video Art, Revised Edition. London: Thames & Hudson, 2007.