Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Freedom Sparks in Montreal

"Freedom's Discontents: Resistance, Subversion, and Survival"

A triumverate of curators--Irys Schenker, myself and gallery director Bettina Forget put together a video exhibition at Montreal's Visual Voice Gallery. The show is up only through July 17, but viewable online at Visual Voice Gallery. My selections and essay (reprinted below) are viewable at LightCube Video.

The response to the Freedom Sparks open call for videos has been overwhelming, and has garnered submissions from all over the world. This is indeed the beauty behind a show such as this: curators from New York have looked at videos from Brussels, Japan, and Arizona, among others, and the works will be viewed in a gallery in Montreal. This process has informed the interpretation of the concept of freedom, and provided a range of reactions - personal, national, or abstracted, and with these examples we can glimpse the expanse of our world.

Biying Zhang abstracts black and white footage of the Pan Asian Games in China with abrasive editing and sound, into a reflection on the calamity and destruction behind the facade of governmental control. In a place where freedom has a nuanced history, a propaganda machine aims to portray a happy and modernized China, which the artist counteracts with his pointed video.

Elise Rasmussen similarly delves into local history: the disappearance of native culture in Newfoundland. Her poignant, meditative approach, combined with bilateral framing, gives a nuanced viscerally-felt evocation of place. In a free society, without overt warfare or pursuit of genocide, an ethnic group nonetheless slowly is eradicated. What can freedom mean when a groups survival itself is so tenuous?

Tobias Rosenberger investigates another disappearance: of landscape and its inhabitants, an erasure brought about by the results of commercial freedom. A development, the height of material choice, brings about a sudden death, and Rosenberger shows us the end result of deadening conformity.

Daniel Stitts provides a personal and hauntingly beautiful nugget of personal and sexual freedom. Motifs of hiding, disappearance, and even the use of recorded voice all create layers of obstruction to personal liberty. Simone Patterson's fun brightly-colored piece subverts her underlying themes of feminity submerged in domesticity, vanity, and modern womens forced juggling of roles. And finally, Robby Rackleff's humorous lecture, toying with the ease of home-made video fakery, posits freedom as something that each generation fears and resents.

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