jayce salloum at YYZ (401 Richmond West) to October 26. 416-598-4546. Rating: NNNN
In a darkened room, a woman projected onto a wall says of life in her country, "Before the political changes, nobody went to the museum, because we lived in a fiction."Jayce Salloum has set up seven screens of interviews and images that at first glance suggest a documentary aesthetic. But he moves quickly beyond the paradigm of investigative objectivity to the more affecting one of not saying much in the face of what he's hearing.
On a television monitor, Soha Bechara speaks of being tortured and detained for 10 years for her involvement in the Lebanese resistance. Sitting on her bed in her tiny room, she charms, laughs, looks nauseated and becomes amused when she says something she knows to be clever. Salloum is the interviewer here, but his manner is not the calm of the reporter. His French is quite bad. He finds it difficult to take in all she's saying.
"You don't understand?" she asks. "I don't understand, but it's OK. I prefer to film. Afterwards I'll understand."
On the other walls of the gallery there are projections of streets shot from a moving car -- decimated buildings, bodies overlaid with sheets. Giant flowers heave in and out of focus. Yet paired with the frank, warm and sophisticated Bechara and the dozen other speakers, these images are liberated from what might otherwise be their default fates -- so familiar as to be trite, or so earnest as to be banal.
As a woman in one of the projections puts it, "We just lived in metaphors (then).... That's why reality seems so interesting to me now."
In this exhibit, nothing is a symbol for anything else. There is no imagining beyond the reality, but here that seems an art.