Image from John Greyson’s Covered.
If you’re really into stuff like “modes,” “forms,” “gestures,” “ephemera,” or the relationship between cinematic time and the empty vastness of gallery space more generally (or just like a good noddle-scratch), than put down that dog-eared copy of Artforum, practice your considered nodding, and get ready for the twenty-third edition of the Images Festival. North America’s premier congress of experimental film and video, choreography, installation art, and other immoderately arty pleasures, Images Festival 2010 spans 10 days and 25 venues, and boasts an impressive 145 artists (most of whom you’ve likely never heard of…unless you make a point of going to the Images Festival every year). Kidding aside, this year’s festival is bursting with plenty of interesting exhibitions, much of it misfit art so idiosyncratic it could only find a home at Images.
Yesterday evening at the Gladstone, festival directors unveiled the complete itinerary for Images 2010. After the many, many, many, shout-outs to this year’s sponsors, funders, founders, and board members, Images Artistic Director Pablo de Ocampo and Programmer Jacob Korczynski (who, given the festival’s remarkably esoteric parameters, have either the easiest or hardest job in the Toronto arts scene) ran through the festival’s highlights. “We’re constantly tooting our own horns about how things keep getting better and better at Images,” said de Ocampo, “and this year is no exception.” Images 2010 is broken up into three main programs: On Screen (screenings of feature-length films, shorts, and experimental video), Off Screen (nearly three dozen installations spread across fifteen local galleries), and Live Images (a smorgasbord of performance art, dance, music, and other real-time displays).
Amongst the highlights of On Screen is the latest feature by Palestinian filmmaker Kamal Aljafari. Set against the war-ravaged backdrop of Jaffa, Port of Memory follows a Palestinian family (here Aljafari directs his own aunts and uncles), searching for a place in a city defined by its sense of placelessness. It promises to be an interesting film, not least of all in its Aljafari’s Dogme-style directing of non-actors. It’s also a provocative rejoinder to the kerfuffle kicked up over TIFF 2009’s controversial decision to focus their first annual City-to-City program on Tel Aviv. Premiering at the opening-night gala, Port of Memory is preceded by a short by Canadian filmmaker and York University Professor John Greyson (who, incidentally, spearheaded last fall’s anti-TIFF Toronto Declaration). Also featured are Hamiltonian Luo Li’s debut I Went to the Zoo the Other Day (shot on location at the Metro Toronto Zoo), and the Canadian Artist Spotlight on landmark Toronto filmmaker Ross McLaren, best known for his searing 1977 Toronto punk doc Crash ‘n’ Burn.
Still from Luo Li’s I Went to the Zoo the Other Day.
Outside of the more conventional domains of film and video (though you can rest assured the films and videos are anything but conventional), the Off Screen program boasts installations by Montreal artist Daniel Barrow at the Art Gallery of York University, and the North American premiere of American installation artist Sharon Lockhart’s exhibition Podwórka, presented at The Power Plant. The most haphazard program of the three, Live Images features a dance/video hybrid from NYC-based duo robbinschilds and a Cageian bit of artistic austerity in No Images, live audio performances presented to an audience shrouded in darkness (which, de Ocampo warned, “is not for the claustrophobic or people afraid of the dark”).
Of course, these are just the keynote events at the sprawling Images 2010, which will also play host to the 2010 International Experimental Media Congress April 7–11 at OCAD. If fourteen-hour installations, experimental films, emotive dance numbers, or sitting in the dark listening to aural performance is your bag, Images 2010 will be right up your alley. Just remember to pack a triple Americano in your thermos to keep you alert through all the action and that, when in doubt about how exactly to speak about a given piece, “Interesting, but terribly overrated” is almost always a safe bet.
The twenty-third Images Festival runs April 1–10, 2010 in venues around Toronto. Their website went live last night. Check it out for complete listings of events, screenings, and participating galleries, or to purchase tickets.
All images courtesy Rebecca Webster.