WIDE part of the iMAGES Festival of independent film and video, on view at eight venues (see Rep Cinemas listings, page 81, and gallery listings this page for details). 416-971-8405. www.imagesfestival.com
if an experimental film and
video festival isn't quite fringey enough for your taste, skip iMAGES' main screenings and concentrate on the installation works in Wide instead.
Conceived by exhibitions coordinator Deirdre Logue, this off-site side festival has been around since Logue joined iMAGES' board of directors back in 95. Though the installation component changes its name and mandate annually (which is hell on brand-name recognition), it consistently presents installation-based works that push limits in ways that even experimental filmmakers might find challenging.
This year's loosely knit theme -- Wide, as in wide-angle lens -- reflects the programming process as much as the sub-festival's content.
"This year the focus is on local artists, including some senior people, and only three or four of the 24 exhibitors would normally be participating in a film or video festival," Logue says a little breathlessly over her mobile phone while making a dash to the iMAGES offices at 401 Richmond West.
As time-based as any of iMAGES offerings, most of this year's off-site installations come in short, two- to 12-minute packages. But some, like Shane Hope's 60-minute Deathread Taped To Freezer Framed, screening at Innis College, run longer than many of the works being presented in the main festival. When confronted with this, Logue acknowledges the inconsistency.
"Deathread is an anomaly, but when you see it, the context makes perfect sense."
Logue points out that artists working outside film and video have been quicker to take on new digital media. Hence Talk Nice, an interactive speech program by Elizabeth Vander Zaag, and David Rokeby's video surveillance system, Guardian Angel, both at InterAccess; and two interactive projections at Art System, Joe Kelly's Panorama and David Clark's Chemical Vision.
Paul Petro Contemporary Art saves up its time-based programming to coincide with the festival, this year presenting works by Paulette Phillips, Montreal-based Belgian Stphane Gilot, and Doug Back with Michael Buchanan and Norman White.
Other highlights include ace performance artist Johanna Householder, who exhibits stills from a video she made with b.h. Yael, in Gallery 44's Vitrines. A Space shows U.S.-based Colombian artist Adriana Arenas Ilian's Sweet Illusion, which uses cotton candy and karaoke tunes as stand-ins for romantic love. At Area, Break -- featuring hamsters in exercise balls -- by Nigerian-born UK artist Marion Coutts, riffs off everything from dancing to snooker breaks.
Mercer Union, Trinity Square Video, V Tape and YYZ also ramp up with video-based installations, while the seven storefront installations (This Ain't the Rosedale Library, Arka, Saving Grace, Essence of Life, Akau, Mothership and Hoax Couture) of Window Shopping reflect on commercial culture.