The camera pans slowly and effortlessly across her body before coming to rest on a white flower. The air cracks and beauty is destroyed.Louise Noguchi's video work is often subtle and captivating. This piece, second in the In Light video series at the AGO, is absolutely spellbinding. It's a mixture of excellent photography, stunning contrasts and a powerfully simple idea.
Noguchi stands before the camera dressed in a dark haori, a traditional man's robe from Japan. The camera pans back and forth across her chest in slow motion. We only catch a single glimpse of her face.
Most of the frame is filled with the play of light on her robes as they flutter in the wind. The camera pans along her arm to her hand, which clutches a single white flower. We pause. Then the air moves, building in intensity until it cracks and the petals are torn from the stem with great force.
We don't see the cause of the flower's demise but can guess that it's a whip. This is the third piece the Toronto artist has worked on with rodeo performer Tom Bishop Jr., who throws knives and does rope tricks in addition to working the bullwhip with great accuracy. His role is perfectly executed.
The video is seamless, moving from one flower in her right hand across to another in her left and back. First it's a chrysanthemum (Japan's national flower), then a lily, then a hydrangea. Each delicate bloom rocks gently in the breeze, basking in the warm sunlight during the brief seconds before dismemberment. It's a tragic work.
So sad and firstname.lastname@example.org
Louise Noguchi at the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West) to September 29. 416-979-6648. Rating: NNNNN