The Film

On view until September 10.

Curated in the context of COVID-19, this artist video takes a look back at a tuberculosis sanatorium in 1944, in the heart of the Canadian prairies (Fort San, Saskatchewan). The Blood Records: written and annotated explores the world of a young girl, ill with tuberculosis. Struggling to escape her diseased body, her spirit roams freely throughout the long days and nights, reminiscing about her family, fearful of the fate of a beloved older brother who is fighting in The War, missing her native language (French) which is now foreign to her tongue after two years in the English hospital and idolizing the handsome but distant war correspondent who has just been admitted. A haunting tale of disease and loss, the work infuses the irrevocably sad memories of the girl with a hope only possible through survival. Visually compelling, with austere tableau shot on location in real sanatoria lending a feeling of inevitability to each scene. A tale told within the skin of consciousness.

Film distribution courtesy of VTape.

About the Artists

Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak have worked exclusively in collaboration since 1983, producing videotapes, performances and photo/text works. In 2009, Steele + Tomczak were awarded an Honourary Doctorate by the University of British Columbia (Okanagan); in 2005, a Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual & Media Arts; in 1994 they received both a Toronto Arts Award and the Bell Canada prize for excellence in Video Art.

They are co-founders of Vtape, an award-winning media arts centre established in 1983 in Toronto. Currently Steele is Artistic Director and Tomczak is Restoration and Collections Management Director. Both are Professors Emeritae teach at the University of Toronto in The John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design.

In September 2012, a major survey of their work The Long Time: the 21st century work of Steele + Tomczak curated by Paul Wong (with a 84 page catalogue), opened at On Main Gallery and VIVO, Vancouver; the exhibition traveled to A Space Gallery (2013), to the Art Gallery of Windsor (2016), and to the Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax (2017).

Major public art commissions include: Watertable (2009, and expanded in 2011) a light and sound installation under the Gardiner Expressway (a raised highway) that marks the original shoreline of Lake Ontario at the foot of historic Fort York; …bump in the night (Barrie) (2010) commissioned by McLaren Art Centre and installed in bus shelters; Falling Up (2006) a video work for the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Love Squared (2006) screened on the 2400 square foot video board at Yonge & Dundas Square in Toronto.

Legal Memory, their first feature-length work, has been shown in a number of film festivals since its release including: The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Festival, the Festival Internazionale Cinema Giovani (Turin, Italy), the Toronto Festival of Festivals and broadcast on TVOntario. In 1996, their work BLOOD RECORDS: written and annotated, received a world premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and toured across Canada with a bi-lingual catalogue published by The Oakville Galleries.

Recent solo exhibitions of their collaborative or individual works have taken place at the Ann Arbor Film Festival (2020); True/False Festival (2020, Steele retrospective);TIFF Wavelengths (2019); Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, NS (2014); Le Mois de la Photo a Montreal (2011); WHARF Centre D’art contemporain, Herouxville-St. Clair, France (2010); Diaz Contemporary, Toronto (2009); Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, (2009); Dazibao, Montreal (2008); the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris (2003).

Selected group exhibitions and screenings of their work include: Toronto Biennial of Art (2019); Rencontres internationales Paris/Berlin (2019); Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood, Art Gallery of Ontario (2017); Toronto: Tributes and Tributaries, 1971-1989, Art Gallery of Ontario; La Biennale de Montréal, Musee d’art contemporain de Montréal (2014); Carbon 14:Climate is Culture, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2013); STITCHES: Suzhou Fast Forward, Workshop, Toronto (2011); Empire of Dreams: phenomenology of the built environment at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2010); a focus screening at EXIS: Experimental Film and Video Festival in Seoul, Korea (2010); the Berlin Film Festival, Forum Expanded (2009).