Born in Reston, Manitoba, 1942, Colin Campbell studied at the University of Manitoba (BFA) and Claremont Graduate School in California (MFA), then taught at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, where he made his first video works. He moved to Toronto in 1973 and taught first at the Ontario College of Art, now the Ontario College of Art and Design, and then, beginning in 1980, in the Department of Fine Art at University of Toronto. Campbell died of cancer in October 2001 and is greatly mourned by friends and colleagues.
Canada’s premier video artist and author of over fifty titles, Campbell was active in the artist-run centre movement in Canada, a founding member (and for many years president) of Vtape independent video distribution. He curated video and performance programs in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Rio de Janeiro, and published texts in FILE and Fuse magazines, as well as the artist’s books The Woman from Malibu (1978) and Modern Love (1979), commissioned by Art Metropole, Toronto. A retrospective exhibition, Colin Campbell: Media Works 1972–1990, was mounted by curator Bruce W. Ferguson for the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 1990, and toured nationally the following year. Campbell received the Bell Canada Award in Video Art in 1996.
Colin Campbell represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1980 and at biennial exhibitions in Sao Paulo in 1977 and Istanbul in 1992, as well as at OKanada in Berlin (Akademie der Künste, 1982) and Documenta in Kassel, Germany in 1977. He exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, the Musée National d’Art Moderne (Paris), the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), and at museums and galleries elsewhere in Europe and throughout Canada and the United States. His video and film were included in the television series Ghosts in the Machine (Channel Four Television, London) and Video Art Vidéo (TVOntario) and aired on Vision Television (Toronto). His work has been screened at the Melbourne Film Festival, British Film Institute Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the Festival of Festivals (the precursor to the Toronto International Film Festival), the Chicago International Film Festival, and elsewhere.
– Peggy Gale, excerpted from her text “About Colin Campbell” on the Video Art in Canada Website (Vtape/Virtual Museum of Canada, 2006)