>>> 35mm Marvels

Art pieces show depth and texture

Tacita Dean, Daniel Young and Christian Giroux at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West) to August 23. 416-599-8433. Rating: NNNN

TIFF gives its exhibition space over to the increasingly anachronistic medium of 35mm film. Film’s lustrous vibrancy, depth and visual texture remind us that digital’s relentless clarity has come at the cost of much poetry and meditative grandeur.

Christian Giroux and Daniel Young, who won the Sobey Art Award in 2011, juxtapose images of nearly every Berlin building built in 1983 with buildings from 2012 as a means of probing the politics and culture of those three decades.

It is an exhaustively thorough achievement simply in terms of its scale, and 1983 is an interesting choice given that Berlin was not to be reunited for another seven years. The buildings, handsomely centred in every shot, look both prim and oddly displaced. They make you wonder: can shifts in ideology be felt through architecture? 

Tacita Dean dominates the exhibit with JG, her breathtaking meditation on filmic and geologic time. Using dystopian British novelist J.G. Ballard’s short story The Voices Of Time as a starting point, she films Robert Smithson’s iconic land art piece, Spiral Jetty, in Utah’s Great Salt Lake.

An 460-metre spiral carved into the bed of the lake by cranes in 1970, Spiral Jetty is itself a meditation on the immen-sity of geologic time, the spi-ral being our most ancient cosmological symbol for eternity. 

Using handmade filters, Dean super-imposes cutouts onto the film itself, a layer of uncanny shapes that make the already otherworldly Salt Lake pointedly ethereal. 

Somehow, in 26 minutes, she makes notions of eternity and fragile humanity palpable, using the magnificent Utah landscape as a canvas. 


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