Friday, September 9, 2011
The Toronto International Film Festival, now in its 36th iteration, opened to the public last night with a number of gala film presentations and a whack of glamorous parties. Among the Hollywood hooplah and general cinematic buzz that make this the most exciting two weeks of every year in Toronto, TIFF has lately been sure to provide a direct connection from the festival to the contemporary art world. This is accomplished through a selection of films and film-based projects by contemporary artists in a series called "Future Projections". This year's moving-image artworks include pieces by Peter Lynch, Nicholas and Sheila Pye, James Franco and Gus Van Sant, Mr. Brainwash, David Rokeby, Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky, Gregory Crewdson, Ben Rivers, Duane Hopkins, David Lamelas, and Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation.
The Future Projections programme is free and open to the public for the duration of the Festival, September 8 to 18, at TIFF Bell Lightbox and various locations around Toronto. Descriptions and showtimes of all the works in the program are below:
Peter Lynch: Buffalo Days (2011) – World Premiere
One of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers, Peter Lynch has also had a long history with video art and installation work dating back to when he organized Video Culture International in the 1980s. Buffalo Days examines the devastating impact of Europeans on native cultures. In place of an inherently organic system, Europeans substituted one of complete control, driving out or eliminating wildlife – especially buffalo – and people unable to conform. The projections perform different functions: one reflects the actual physical environment; another, remnants and ghosts of the Blackfoot people’s way of life. The haunting quality of the imagery is buttressed by a soundscape comprised of natural sounds and traditional Blackfoot drumming. The piece is a compelling rumination on several of Lynch’s favourite themes, among them how we interact or fail to interact with our environment. Presented in collaboration with the Royal Ontario Museum’s Institute for Contemporary Culture. Produced with the support of the National Parks Project. Thorsell Spirit House, 100 Queen’s Park. September 8 to 18.
James Franco and Gus Van Sant: Memories of Idaho (1991; 2010 and 2011) – World Premiere (elements*)
In 1991, Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho and its central performance by River Phoenix had an enormous cultural impact, not least on a budding young actor named James Franco (127 Hours, James Dean). Now Franco has collaborated with Van Sant to create Memories of Idaho, a meditation on the seminal film in multiple parts. At the work’s core are two new films, projected sequentially, in a darkened, generic space. The first film, My Own Private River, is a feature-length chronological reassemblage of excised scenes and alternate takes from the original shoot, radically foregrounding Phoenix. The second film, Idaho, comes from one of three scripts Van Sant used to create the original film, its Super-8 texture meant to be a “ghost” of his original conception. Van Sant contributes ghosts of his own, large-format photographs of actual Portland street hustlers who appeared in, and provided inspiration and source material for, the film. Presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox Atrium, 350 King Street West. September 8 to 18. (*One of the film elements of "Memories of Idaho," My Own Private River, was previously shown at Gagosian Gallery Los Angeles, February 26 to April 9, 2011.)
Mr. Brainwash: Mr. Brainwash in Toronto (2011) – World Premiere
Made famous by the film Exit through the Gift Shop as legendary street-artist Banksy's alter ego, Thierry Guetta , a.k.a. Mr. Brainwash, has continued to produce provocative and playful Pop art. His work hungrily appropriates contemporary visual-art masters and cheekily tweaks the nose of gallery-based convention. He will be engaged in multiple projects during the Festival, including a significant, multiple-piece exhibition at Gallery One. His presence will also be felt outside Roy Thomson Hall, with his spray cans towering over the red carpet, providing emergency assistance for evenings requiring additional glamour and pomp. And, finally, he will collaborate with TIFF on “Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess,” our fall exhibition. His unique tribute to the style icon will be seen wildposted all over town. Presented at David Pecaut Square, 55 John Street, September 8 to 18, and in collaboration with Gallery One, 121 Scollard Street, September 8 to October 22.
Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation: whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir (2009-2011)
Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation’s much-celebrated work utilizes iconic images and ideas from art history as a starting point. Their whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir, shot mostly in post-Soviet Central Asia, reinvents the Suprematists’ radical abstractions through the deployment of paranoiac sci-fi film noir. Tarkovsky's Solaris, with its perpetual sense of crisis, looms large, as does Jean-Luc Godard: the film concerns one Mr. Holz, newly employed in the futuristic metropolis City-A, a clear reference to Alphaville but infused with the sadness, horror and lost Utopian spirit of ever-present Soviet architecture. The work is of indeterminate length, generated algorithmically in real time by a computer program called a “serendipity machine,” which runs alongside the film. Made up of over 3,000 filmic fragments, some colour and some black and white, whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir displays an amazing coherence and narrative thrust. Perpetually evolving, Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation’s exciting new work evokes the same radical spirit and willfulness as Malevich's squares and circles must have done so many years ago. Presented in collaboration with the NFB Mediatheque, 150 John Street. September 9 to 11.
Gregory Crewdson: Sanctuary (2009) – Canadian Premiere
With La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini broke with the neorealist tradition of filming on location, and moved to Cinecittà Studios, where he built a near-exact replica of Rome’s famed Via Veneto. Cinecittà, then known for hosting American epics like Ben Hur, would become inextricably linked with the great director. In this series of photographs, artist Gregory Crewdson revisits Fellini’s stomping grounds, documenting a cinematic ruin where narratives linger like ghosts. The traces of bygone productions are everywhere: a painted sign, perhaps from Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York; flooded alleyways that evoke HBO’s Rome. Presented in collaboration with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. CONTACT Gallery, 80 Spadina Avenue, suite 310. September 8 to October 22.
Nicholas and Sheila Pye: Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board (2011) – World Premiere
Collaborative Canadian artists Nicholas and Sheila Pye’s latest exhibition refers to the levitation game children often play at slumber parties. In this beautiful series of projections, the Pyes combine their film and photography work to create four tableaux that explore the link between magic and cinema. Each exquisite portrait, with its delicate yet startling movement, draws on old-world special effects to convey a mysterious story. The Pyes’ work has traditionally focused on the destructive aspects of relationships, but this series sees them plunging into trickery, in which the supernatural’s machinations are decidedly and eerily hidden. Presented in collaboration with Birch Libralato, 129 Tecumseth Street, September 8 to October 15.
Duane Hopkins: Sunday (2009) – North American Premiere
UK director Duane Hopkins’ full-scale installation project, Sunday, is both an extension of his previous films and a haunting, elegiac projection-based work in its own right. Consisting of a series of subtly looped diptychs and triptychs, Sunday focuses on the West Midlands youth of his much-celebrated feature-film debut Better Things (2008) and his early shorts Field and Love Me or Leave Me Alone. Hopkins captures the ennui, sadness and beauty of isolated adolescence in painterly tones and colors that recall the British Romantics, while twinning and reconceptualizing his landscapes to evoke the brooding, twitchy surrealism of the ever-encroaching contemporary world. Sunday builds to a climax of poignant helplessness, a politics of alienation that presages the violence and turmoil engulfing England this summer. Presented in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), 952 Queen Street West. September 9 to18.
David Rokeby: Plot Against Time (2007-2011) – World Premiere
Throughout his distinguished career, Governor General’s Award-winning artist David Rokeby has experimented prolifically with a variety of new media. Unifying all his work is an insatiable fascination with the recording of motion, and, in turn, of time. His new series, Plot Against Time, consists of four exquisite videos, each set in milieus in which figures’ and objects’ movements are meticulously tracked, creating gestural streaks across the screen. The vignettes vary widely, with marked seasonal modulations: bugs flitting about in the artist’s sun-soaked backyard; snowflakes vibrating in the turbulence created by Mies Van Der Rohe’s TD Centre skyscrapers and an Al McWilliams sculpture in Toronto’s financial district; tourists and pigeons forming searching paths in Venice’s Piazza San Marco; and, in the series’ most recent work which receives its world premiere at this year’s TIFF, gannets swooping off the coast of Newfoundland. Brilliantly suggesting abstract-expressionist precedents from Whistler to Pollock, Plot Against Time’s interest in kinesis is as sociological and technological as it is philosophical and painterly. Presented in collaboration with The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West. September 8 to 18.
Ben Rivers: Slow Action (2010) – Toronto Premiere
Ben Rivers’ four-part film, Slow Action, is a heady mix of lingering, mysterious beauty and charmingly offbeat humour, transforming four real locales into wholly imagined futuristic communities. Referencing classic-documentary and ’50s-era ethnographic cinema, Rivers mischievously plays with the disarming and ironic porosity of science fiction. Taking inspiration from such utopian literary classics as Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis and Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, Slow Action uses a commissioned text by writer Mark von Schlegell, read by an omniscient female and male voice (the former a nod to Werner Herzog’s Fata Morgana). As they negotiate the utopian terrain of these post-flood parallel worlds, the searing 16mm anamorphic images testify to Rivers’ visionary flair and eye for the breathtaking. Though reminiscent of such august precedents as Chris Marker’s La Jetée and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Slow Action is, indelibly, a creation of its maker, whose ongoing study of hybrids and hermits belongs in a category all its own. Presented in collaboration with Gallery TPW, 56 Ossington Avenue. September 8 to October 1.
Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky: Road Movie (2011) – World Premiere
Presented on six double-sided walls and comprised of a series of short films, Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky’s powerful and beautifully nuanced installation, Road Movie, examines contemporary life in Palestine. Palestinians living in the West Bank are confronted with a segregated and impossible road system made all the more problematic and unpredictable by shifting political currents. The subjects of the films – from Palestinian ambulance and taxi drivers to Israeli settlers and human-rights activists offer a unique and unconventional glimpse into the human landscape of this volatile land. Filmed in stop-motion animation, with a screen set-up suggesting the foreboding wall surrounding Palestine, Road Movie is full of arresting and vibrant images, from the deserts of the Jordan Valley to the circumference of Jerusalem. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada and presented at O'Born Contemporary offsite, 51 Wolseley St. 5th Floor, September 8 to 18.
David Lamelas: Time as Activity (Buenos Aires) (2010) – International Premiere
Pioneering ’60s conceptualist David Lamelas began, tellingly, as a sculptor. His explorations of time and space through film emerge from his desire “to produce sculptural forms without any physical volume.” Central to his career is his ongoing Time as Activity series, which began in 1969 in Dusseldorf when the artist filmed three separate views of the city in static, silent takes on 16mm, intercutting these with titles bearing the elapsed time of each. For the seventh instalment – after 40 years and excursions to Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, Warsaw, St. Gallen and Fribourg – Lamelas represents his native Buenos Aires via its landmark Plaza Congreso. With tranquil elegance, economy and ostensible simplicity, Time as Activity (Buenos Aires) underlines Lamelas’ proposition that time is our own construct and that hyperrealism entails fiction. Originally an in situ work exhibited opposite the Congreso, Time as Activity (Buenos Aires) comes to Toronto on the occasion of TIFF’s City to City focus on Buenos Aires. Presented in collaboration with Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, ste. 124, 401 Richmond Street West. September 8 to 18.
Purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at www.tiff.net/festival, by phone Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET at 416-599-TIFF or 1-888-599-8433, and in person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox Box Office at 350 King St. West from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Methods of payment include cash, debit or Visa†. The 36th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8 to 18, 2011.
TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival® in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $170 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation, Major Sponsor and official bank RBC, Major Sponsor BlackBerry and Visa†. For more information, visit tiff.net.
Future Projections is made possible through the generous support of the Hal Jackman Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council.