Tuesday, January 13, 2009 at 7:30pm
17 hours of darkness (reflections on this place I call home)

Curated by Christina Battle

“17 hours of darkness (reflections on this place I call home)” brings together a collection of works by contemporary Canadian artists exploring the dark and nagging anxieties associated with the Canadian landscape. An investigation of my own obsession with Canada’s natural climate, artists represented attempt to navigate the darkness that envelops our days for so many hours of the year. As we brace for another long winter I wonder how this obsession has shaped our collective memory and in turn impacts the Canadian experience...oh, and of course, there’s some hockey in there too. - CB

Work to be screened, accompanied by a handmade slideshow:

18,000 Dead in Gordon Head
, Clive Holden, 35mm on DVD, 2003, 13 mins
In the summer of 1982, during a visit to the poet-filmmaker’s hometown, he witnessed the murder of a teenage girl – killed by a sniper on a quiet, suburban street, in the middle of the afternoon. He returned a year later to lie with his camera on the spot where she died, and to roam the neighbourhood searching for footage.

Taking Pictures, Scott Berry and Adam Segal, 16mm, 2007, 3 mins
A hand-processed diary film about memory, family and loss told through snapshots and landscapes in and around Ontario. Music by Sam Phillips.

Lake Ontario (in my head), Penny McCann, 16mm, 2006, 5 mins
A meditative look at a mutable and hypnotic horizon. Grainy Super 8 imagery, optically printed 16mm footage and an atmospheric soundtrack evoke the stillness of mind reached when standing before expansive sky and water.

oil wells: sturgeon road & 97th street, Christina Battle, 16mm, 2002, 3 mins
Highlighting the repetitive nature of oil wells in northern alberta, this hand processed film documents a sighting common to the canadian prairies.

Wreck/Nation, John Price, 16mm, 1998, 12 mins
Wreck: I passed the wreck not long after crossing into Saskatchewan. Day 3, alone, driving west towards Vancouver. On the other side of the highway, a twisted mess of iron and steel. Rail cars like beached whales strewn arbitrarily in heaps rupturing the perspective symmetry of the endless prairie. At once an allusion to the fallibility of industrialization and modernity. I felt after it had flashed past the windscreen, that there were significations here that reached far deeper than this immediate literal interpretation. Half an hour after I had watched the image recede completely into the eastern horizon through my side view mirror, the memory of this apocalyptic tableaux - its darkly poetic irony - would compel me to turn back.

Nation: A roll of film shot in Montreal at the 1995 rally against the secession of Quebec became the raw material for a candy coloured hand-processed meditation on the idea of “Nation.”

Mean, Clive Holden, 35mm on DVD, 2006, 3 mins
Mean is a diptych made from Super 8 film and old video footage. The pun of the title comes from the extra levels of "meaning" we attach to nation, religion, sports teams, and even to art genres like film and video. The hockey players were shot in Super 8 off a TV set and then subjected to cheap and crude "toy-like" effects -- the result seems to capture the tragicomic nature of hockey fights (and of artists arguing). With the fans, the favourite kind of hockey fight results in 100% domination, with the complete humiliation and psychological disintegration of the loser. Mean tries to dissolve and reconstitute this corrosive culture into a kind of uglybeauty. The diseased maple leaves were filmed beside Toronto's Don Valley Parkway, the lens focusing on the sky and the sun between the branches. This piece isn't really a film or video, it's "grain + noise."

Défi des étoiles, Sara MacLean, 16mm, 2005, 11 mins
Jan 29, 1991
“Ladies and Gentlemen: Would you please now rise for our Canadian troops in the Persian Gulf War...for our Gold Medal-winning team, and our Country?”

Shoulders on a Map, Jason Britski, 16mm, 2004, 4 mins
“An endless inventory of trees, snow, rocks and water rolls by onscreen in this experimental travelogue. Shoulders on a Map is a Super 8 homage to transportation, motion and the breathtaking landscape of the Canadian Rockies.” - Ben Murray, Toronto International Film Festival

Fore and Aft, Sara MacLean, 35mm on DVD, 2008, 6 mins
Fore-and-Aft was created by the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada - site of the highest tides in the world. Images of the tides are married with celluloid that was buried in the sea bed, and dragged through the ocean behind a boat. Physically exposing film to the motion and light of the sea recorded tactile evidence of the repetition and changes wrought by tide cycles.

Images of the Bluenose (the famous fore-and-aft rigged racing schooner from Nova Scotia whose likeness graces the Canadian ten cent coin) float ominously overtop of the tides, never coming into clear focus and instead dissolving into wet ink droplets and reforming - merging with and re-emerging from the sea.

With a B.Sc. in Environmental Biology from the University of Alberta and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, Christina currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Her artworks have been supported by the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT), the National Film Board of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts, The Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council, and have screened internationally in festivals and galleries including: The Images Festival (Toronto), The London Film Festival (London, England); The International Film Festival Rotterdam (The Netherlands); YYZ Artists’ Outlet (Toronto); White Box (New York); The Foreman Art Gallery at Bishops University (Sherbrooke, QB); The city of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche 2006 and in the 2006 Whitney Biennial: “Day for Night” (New York).

Tickets - $7, available at door.