Christie, Caissy Crash Art into Film at Centre Clark
Centre Clark, Montreal August 30 to October 6, 2012
POSTED: OCTOBER 3, 2012
Every so often, the fine line between film and art is thoroughly disrupted. Take, for instance, the advent of the Portapak video system that, in the late 1960s, democratized the tools of filmmaking, ushering in the era of video art in the process. Or the development of today’s smartphone cameras and YouTube, which have pushed the way we record, distribute and consume moving pictures into unprecedented creative territory.
These shifts have meant big changes to the way we think about film and art, too. As the curtain of film has been drawn back by new technologies, filmmakers and artists have increasingly taken to a kind of introspective analysis of the moving image, a coming to terms with the structural artifice behind the media, modes and meanings of their practices.
In the gallery’s main space, Christie presents Off Route 2, a cinematic portrayal in two parts of a car accident set on a snowy forest road. Shot in 35mm film and projected on a gallery wall, the work follows two narrative streams. The opening sequence offers a straight-ahead filmic treatment depicting the overturned car and bloodied driver trapped in the silent forest as curious animals hover nearby—a poetic pause in the aftermath of an accident. The screen fades to black, and the second sequence begins. Here, as a fire crew arrives to free the driver, the camera zooms slowly out to include sound booms, camera dollies and the various workers on a movie set. The illusion is revealed, transferring the real drama of Christie’s work to the mechanics of filmmaking, an effect further compounded by the looming presence of a 35mm projector in the gallery.
In Clark’s second gallery space, Caissy’s Derby is a three-screen video work shot on location at a demolition derby in rural Quebec. Primarily known as a documentary filmmaker, here Caissy offers a poetically immersive portrait of destruction and violence. Images of drivers colliding and struggling to continue as their cars are smashed to pieces are interspersed with shots of a surprisingly passive grandstand audience, whose members chat, eat lunch and smoke in a kind of readymade critical drama. Yet sound is the key to this work. Caissy has muted the roaring motors, crashing steel and announcer’s commentary into a wave-like composition augmented from time to time with classical string music. This discord between images of violent spectacle and sounds of meditative calm creates a meaningful confusion, suggesting a different mode of seeing: with our ears.