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Features / August 28, 2008

Tony Romano: An Affair to Remember

Tony Romano, The Last Act, 2006 Film still

Romance has never been a primary motive behind the plotlines of pornography. If anything, the happenstance liaisons and fortuitous commingling of porn script dialogue might best be described as momentary distractions that suggest nothing more than a mildly titillating segue to the real action. Still, even these stories deal with relationships on some level. So what if the “action” from a porn film was removed, leaving only these in-between narrative sequences? What then is the result … a modern romance?

The missing sex scenes show up in an accompanying set of text works. Transcribed by Romano with a neutral point of view, these scripts reduce the unbridled lust the artist purposefully omitted from his film remake to a passionless, clinical record of desire. It’s a wry reversal of the expected that makes a fine point on Romano’s notion that true romance can be found in the most unlikely places. (262 rue Fairmount O, Montreal QC)This question of basic human relations is exactly what Toronto artist Tony Romano has in mind for his installation The Last Act. Working from a found porn video of the same title, Romano re-shot the film scene-for-scene, excluding the explicit bits, with a cast made up of local friends and associates. Isolating and personalizing the story line in this way, Romano creates a conceptual fantasy, re-framing the film’s suggestive sub-narratives as an unintentional study of character dynamics that never strays too far from hints of playfully charged anticipation. His cast of non-actor friends adds a further layer of real-life dynamics—and authenticity—to the project.