Rachelle Viader Knowles The Future, 2003
In Double Space, the second exhibition of the Mirror Series, attention turns from literal mirrors and their representations to a more subtle form of mirroring: the doubling of space in side-by-side video projections.
Featuring recent work by three Canadian artists—Romeo Gongora, Bettina Hoffmann and Rachelle Viader Knowles—the exhibition takes stock of an important direction in recent video installation work.
As a format, the dual projection has received considerable attention during the past decade, in large part thanks to the work of the internationally celebrated British artist Douglas Gordon. Significantly, Gordon’s work of the last decade has witnessed a critical shift: from a questioning of cinematic time and space in installations such as left is right and right is wrong and left is wrong and right is right (1999) to the probing of video and its complex connections to real time and space in works such as Play Dead; Real Time (on display this fall at the MacKenzie). Double Space takes up this latter question by presenting three different approaches to the joining of adjacent virtual spaces.
In Fraterie, Romeo Gongora, a Montreal-based video installation artist who is currently participating in a two-year residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, presents the side-by-side images of a brother and a sister. They appear to be separated by a wall, yet attempting through gestures to connect with each other. In reality, these are estranged siblings who have not spoken to each other for seventeen years. Although the images were shot at different times and locations, the two videos have been synchronized and video photoshopped together to give the appearance of happening at the same time and in adjoining spaces. The tension of this impossible meeting in a fictional space is almost palpable.
In the work of Bettina Hoffmann, a Montreal-based video installation artist whose work has been shown in Los Angeles, London, Berlin, and Frankfurt, the camera is in constant motion. In Décalage (Shift) the projections are created by two cameras which slowly circle the same grouping of people, though on slightly different orbits. The projections pose the impossible situation of seeing two sides of the same person at the same time. The viewer must deal with a schizophrenic overlay of information that threatens to split the viewing subject in two.
Rachelle Viader Knowles, a Regina-based media artist who was nominated for the Sobey Art Award in 2006, splits a single subject in two in her installation The Future. What at first appears to be an ordinary backyard garden in between two parallel rows of Victorian terraced houses is actually one backyard that has been mirrored in two projections. A solitary child appears in first one side, then the other, reinforcing the illusion that this is a unitary space. As the boy tells stories about his life—past, present and future—we learn of his situation as a child of divorce, letting temporal and emotional cleavages emerge.
In these three works, the tension between “real” space and its constructed double forces the viewer to reconsider their own position in relation to an impossible virtual space. The ultimate intention is to bring into question the convention of the solitary, unified viewer, and his/her imaginative occupation of the same virtual position as the video maker, and to pose the possibility of new viewer positions before the projected image.
Rachelle Viader Knowles, The Future, 2003
single channel video installation, 22:00 minutes, continuous loop, dimensions variable
Collection of the artist with the support of Bill Lockwood, Heather Malek and Chapter Arts Centre, Wales, UK
Organized by the MacKenzie Art Gallery with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the City of Regina Arts Commission.