Séance Fiction, Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, Alta., May 2 to July 26, 2015
By Maeve Hanna
An empty bar. A collection of rocks and other found objects. Books stuffed with dried wild flowers. A visual cacophony of flashing images. These scenes, objects and installations help dislodge a linear understanding of time by using an aesthetic that blends notions of séances, science fiction and other mystical or fictitious accounts.
Courtesy of the artist and Erin Stump Projects; Photo: Rita Taylor
Maggie Groat, "A study for collected tools for directions, healings, focusing, reconnections, wayfindings, wanderings, unseeables, wonderings, outsidings, action reportings, future seeings and interconnectivities"
Maggie Groat, "A study for collected tools for directions, healings, focusing, reconnections, wayfindings, wanderings, unseeables, wonderings, outsidings, action reportings, future seeings and interconnectivities", 2015, collected and modified found and salvaged materials, dimensions variable
Works by national and international artists Hannah Doerksen, Maggie Groat, Shana Moulton, Soda_Jerk, Heather and Ivan Morison, and Tamar Guimarães with Kasper Akhøj may seem disparate, but Séance Fiction provides a daring forum that destabilizes our reading of past, present and future.
Commissioned by Walter Phillips Gallery, The Banff Centre; Photo: Rita Taylor
Hannah Doerksen, "I Come to Believe We All Gunna Drown"
Hannah Doerksen, "I Come to Believe We All Gunna Drown", 2015, mixed media, installation view
The cinema’s relationship with time is important to the curatorial premise. For instance, Calgary artist Doerksen’s piece, I Come to Believe We All Gunna Drown, draws very literally from cinema. Her replica of the bar in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film, The Shining, becomes an in-between space. It’s where Jack Torrance’s mental instability unravels in the film, but, in the gallery, the object seems frozen in time, without action.
Courtesy of the artists; Photo: Rita Taylor
Soda_Jerk, "The Time that Remains"
Soda_Jerk, "The Time that Remains", 2012, two-channel video installation, 11:56 min.
Meanwhile, the New York-based Australian art collective Soda_Jerk, presents a two-channel video, The Time that Remains, which also dislodges cinematic notions of time by juxtaposing found footage of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. While one woman sleeps the other plays out various melodramatic scenes. As she falls asleep, the other awakens. Using the dichotomy of sleep and wakefulness to carry the narrative helps disengage our understanding of how time operates both in reality and on film.
Commissioned by TIFF; Photo: Rita Taylor
Guy Maddin, "Hauntings I"
Guy Maddin, "Hauntings I", 2010, 11-channel, super 8mm and HD video transferred to DVD, black and white, silent, installation view
An impressive 11-channel video work, Hauntings 1, by Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin combines footage from a selection of unfinished or unrealized films by great directors that collectively explore cinematic hauntings. Maddin calls the piece “a projection of people, places and things not really present.” Using little-seen footage enforces a spectre-presence, something that does not really exist through narrative but now has become tangible. Massive in scale, the work is unavoidable. With various fragments playing simultaneously on multiple screens, it becomes a flashing whirl of silent black-and-white faces, images and text that’s perhaps best described as an assault on the eyes.
Through curation by Peta Rake, a séance is offered. Like Maddin’s video, this haunting is a forced occupation of the present by the past. Each work offers an opportunity to explore liminal space, allowing the exhibition to become a sort of metempsychosis, the supposed transmigration and reincarnation of the soul. Poetic in its chaotic rendering of mystical notions of time, Séance Fiction revels in disorder yet draws union between disparate works.