Today, I went to check out some of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Future Projections installations – art film installations at venues across town, which are screened as an arty component of TIFF.
Kelly Richardson’s Mariner 9. All images: VoCA
First I stopped by the ROM to see Kelly Richardson’s Mariner 9. Installed in the room adjacent to the main hall in Libeskind’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the film features a dusty, Martian landscape, with a robot or two slowly wandering about. The high definition is impressive, but the still, eerie quality of the installation was overridden by screaming children running around the ROM’s lobby. Not the best location for an otherwise pretty strong piece. Likewise Liang Yue’s The Quiet Room, strangely installed in a room situated off of the very loud bar at the Gladstone Hotel. This serene installation by leading Chinese photographer and filmmaker Liang Yue was rendered ineffective by the casual installation and loud surroundings.
Ming Wong, Making Chinatown at the Gladstone Hotel.
The artist plays all characters himself.
A much better installation is upstairs at the Gladstone, inside several otherwise empty rooms. Ming Wong’s Making Chinatown is a funny, sad recreation of Polanski’s film Chinatown, with the artist cast in the main roles.
Then I went by the CONTACT gallery at 80 Spadina Avenue where the international premiere of Luther Price’s slides were on view. The ‘handmade photographic slide installation’, showed on two back-to-back old-school slide projectors are beautiful, painterly, wax-like, watery, graphic and beautiful. Some are a little creepy.
By far the most effective installation is Dutch artist Jeroen Eisinga’s Springtime, 2010 – 2011. I also thought it was curated very well. You enter from MOCCA’s lobby, and the first piece is a photograph of a man with a swollen, beat up looking face. It’s hard to grasp until to read the title, Self-portrait after Bee Stings, 2010. Then you walk into the main room to see a beautiful, horrific film of the artist, sat at a table, with thousands of bees swarming his face, head and upper body. Only one eye, his nose and mouth are visible.
Jeroen Eisinga, Self-portrait after Bee Stings.
Jeroen Eisinga, Springtime.
It’s rare that you see work of this caliber in Toronto. The artist has sacrificed himself to his idea. It’s so wonderful to witness work that has the ability to strike the viewer deeply like this. I immediately thought about man’s dominance of nature, which goes back in art terms at least to the Camera Obscura and has had an enormous impact, and that this sort of self-mutilation is nature dominating man. Man survives, though wounded. I can totally understand why Eisinga would want to make this piece.
For me, this is a perfect example of ‘art before artist’. The artist should be in service to the art. The goal of art should be to express that which cannot be expressed any other way, through language, music, poetry, theatre or visual art.
Do you think this piece succeeds?