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Features / April 10, 2008

Images Festival: So Long, AV Club

Artur Zmijewski Singing Lesson 2 2003 Video still

For many years it seemed as though contemporary film and video did not get enough screen time in traditional gallery spaces. Under-represented and relegated to dark corner nooks, galleries made video art seem about as appealing as the high school AV club. But with the opening of the annual Images Festival this week—which features 70 screenings, 36 installations, six live performances and dozens of talks, tours and panel discussions—things have clearly changed as “contemporary moving image culture” takes centre stage in galleries across Toronto.

At Gallery 44, a solo exhibition features films by Canadian artist Nelson Henricks, whose work attempts to organize the world’s chaotic stimuli through convoluted systems of bodily measurement and physical representation. In the film Countdown, for instance, the artist uses in-camera editing and his body’s own internal “clock” to count down from 30 using the numbers found on household objects like alarm clocks, measuring tapes and vitamin bottles. Most countdowns lead to a significant end event, but Henricks’s delineation of time turns back on itself, creating an infinite anti-climactic loop. (120-401 Richmond St W, Toronto ON)

While Henricks’s work attempts to transpose temporal moments into visual signs, next door at the Women’s Art Resource Centre, four Brazil-based artists consider the translatability of social and psychic geographies through a series of interactive installations in “Translations/Traduções.” Alice Miceli’s Chernobyl Project uses a lead pinhole camera to map the geography of radioactive fallout, while Giselle Beiguelman and Vera Bighetti’s Improbable Architectures project sets up an environment where viewers can activate and manipulate Second Life avatars in an otherworldly virtual landscape. (122-401 Richmond St W, Toronto ON)

Meanwhile, across town at Gallery TPW, the Warsaw-based artist Arthur Zmijewski’s recent videos, including the documenta-featured Them, portray the results of his discomforting and sometimes violent social experiments. And in Eddo Stern’s solo show at InterAccess, violence and perversity are relocated to the virtual realm of online role-playing games in “Ogres, Halflings, Night Elves & Chuck Norris.” (56 Ossington Ave & 9 Ossington Ave, Toronto ON)