Images 2009 Blog #6
There has been some improvement in the meteorological department, which has been rather brutal so far during the Images Festival. This provides me with a reason to get to more of the Off Screen Images, some of those outside the 401 Richmond building.
At Xpace I can see that this year's exhibiting students are really playing with monitors - what kind of monitors and how to install them. They're playing with video components in multi or inter-media installations, and doing it rather well. Liam Crockard's contribution posits that punk isn't dead - it's just gone sideways. Literally, as the artist has made his monitor vertical while retaining horizontal punk documentation. A mound of earth for burial and a flaming wig on top of bare branches indicates suspension but not stasis. Brad Tinmouth also conveys suspension by positioning himself and his subjects in between channels. ON what appears to be the night of Barack Obama's election victory, youths on the couch tune in and out of the reportage while the signal band's waver. Therefore a clear mage cannot be formed. Jo SiMalaya Alcampo's four station installation referencing the 1904 St. Louis World Fair references tourism and exoticism and the roles of fairs and museums and other heterotopic initiatives. Her use of audio from her first post to score the entire installation is effective. And Mark Pellegrino's installation in the basement is omnivorous - it's a space station, it's an analogue TV station dabbling in digital culture but pre-digitaila. It's CITY on good drugs. Ground Control to Major Tom, take your protein pills and put your helmet on.
Then I walked over to over to Diaz Contemporary and took in Brendan Fernandes' installation The Hunting. This was a thoughtfully effective large piece, which I expected since Fernandes' project in Liberty village during the most recent Nuit Blanche was one of that evening's most memorable works. On there main gallery's floor, he has created a circle of nine monitors - flashing SOS in Morse code (and also like in flicker cinema). The monitors are kneeling among three prayer stools hosting candles - the monitors are praying for forgiveness. On the gallery's east wall, there are two stations for the same videotape and the stations are equipped with headphones. I put them the phones on and listen to the narrative. Against alternating stock of a pride of hyenas and a very snowy landscape, the voice reads a story about a sister's attempt to take over a sibling's monarchy. The juxtaposition between the hyenas and the snowy wood is important here - viewers are not restricted to geographical specificities. Hyenas are the ultimate scavengers, who think nothing of devouring their siblings and are thus the ultimate social Darwinists. The SOS signage flashes on these monitors too - perhaps too late but still insistently. And on the north wall there is a scrawled text of pidgin English. It reads: Fin year weey now. The endin is neera. For some reason I thought of an Irish dialect, but then I thought better. I thought of people and creatures which can negotiate socially without needing to dominate, perhaps without hunting? Do such people and creatures exist?
And then I did stroll into the 401 Richmond Building, where I must single out Takashi Ishida's Toronto-EMAKI, at Wynick Tuck. Takashi Ishida is indeed both a painter and a filmmaker, and this duality is celebrated in his thoughtful installation in one of Wynick Tuck's smaller gallery-spaces. Two Japanese picture-scrolls unfurl along the longer gallery walls, leading up to inverted monitors bearing the edited versions of the drawings on the scroll (or emaki). This is yet more exquisite abstractionism from this Images veteran, hosted by a gallery which represents some of Toronto's best abstract painters.
In the evening, the Images Festival presented an event titled Avant-Garde Film Preservation and Access: Saving George Kuchar's Generous Cinematic Corpus. George Kuchar is one of the dearly beloved all-time shit-disturbers, and what kind of a world would we have if George Kuchar's prints were not preserved let alone restored. In the context of all post-print, post-film, post-art object playful rhetoric that has characterized this 22nd Images Festival, this emphasis of printing and reprinting is reassuring and timely.