By Kevin Ritchie
First-year image arts students got a taste of exhibitionism for two glorious evenings last week on campus. The submissions to the first-year film festival and Sections, a combined media show, varied in style as much that this reviewer felt poked, provoked and vanked in innumerable ways.
The fun began on Thursday, Feb. 17 with the film festival. The films were compiled on two reels in alphabetical order. Each was between 30 seconds and two minutes long. It was difficult to get a grip on themes and concepts because the films differed greatly in content and quality. Suffice it to say I managed to pick out my favourite and least favourite ones.
Some general observations: For the most part, films shot in Pitman Hall looked as if they were shot at the last minute (and probably were). Films that took a familiar concept and had fun with it were the best to watch. There was a lot of violence, even among female-helmed productions. There was hardly any sex, even among male-helmed productions.
The program began with a disorienting medical dram done with hand held camera shots, so shaky that felt like I was watching The Blair Witch Project on a dinghy in the middle of the Atlantic.
We soon came to Natash Barrett’s Chop, Chop, Chop. A nice Microcosmos feeling film that calmly observes butterflies. During the film I jotted down on my notepad: “Increasingly more butterflies—flapping furiously—bemused children in matching outfits.”
Little did I know these three movies would be measured against the goofy comedies, action sequences and abstract nothing to come, occasionally punctured by flashes of genuine, original ideas.
One such flash was Christopher Chiu’s creep show, The Unknown Intruder. A woman is unknowingly stalked in her own home by a creature that takes the viewpoint of the camera. It’s not the most original idea (especially when the woman hops in the tub), but it works because tension builds with the eerie silence in it.
Daniel Ehrensworth’s film Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold chronicles a pair of vengeful socks who strike back after getting soaked in spunk and stuck to the wall. Ehrenworth calls his film a homage to Igmar Bergman that is “really deeper than the ocean.” This statement couldn’t be more true. Ehrenworth obviously shaped the socks like hands and not feet since hands suggest a certain power and jurisdiction that can often be interpreted as a menacing force.
It would be difficult to make a blanket statement about the mixed media portraits at Sections (like I did about the film festival). The show was held in the Image Arts senior studio on Feb. 18. “The work is displayed here is very singular, individual perceptionist and expression,” said Dominique Bezak of Global Art Exhibitors, a company which buys art and sells i around the world. “It’s quite vibrant and dynamic.”
The works were created with various combinations of paint, digital imaging, photography, 3D images, coloured pencils, glitter, wax and poetry. Class sections were not all given the same guidelines and that accounts for the extreme differences in the portraits.
Andrew Forbes’ portrait I Can’t Believe it’s Not Karolina is a comic book illustration of a nude woman. The portrait is black and white except for the naked woman, who is the subject. I wonder what Forbes’ aggressive image of the dominant male suggests about his own psyche.
Another portrait, with no artist tag but entitled Hello my Name is Da Pimp drew many a disgusted glare with its desert island homeboy surrounded by scantily clad supermodels humping rocks and so forth.
Rob Norton’s portrait 1 Exist on the Best Teresa 1 Can picture the pretty face of a young man, with great hair. But hidden beneath his gelled coiffure was a tale of abuse and alienation. His work invited onlookers to “please touch.” I did. Inside, I discovered little openings with Nine-Inch-Nails-esque photos of the guy soaked in blood with captions such as: “Throw the rope around my neck and let the burn awake me.”
There was plenty of style and substance at these events and everyone could go home happy. The complementary pop from Sections and program from the film festival, I will cherish forever.