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Mark Lewis Represents Canada with Four New Films at the 53rd International Art Exhibition
Cold Morning (2009) Single screen projection, 7 minutes 35 seconds, HD video. Film Still courtesy the artist/Monte Clark Gallery(Vancouver)/Clark & Faria(Toronto)/galerie serge le borgne (Paris).

VENICE.- Cold Morning, a selection of four new films by Mark Lewis, one of Canada’s most internationally renowned artists, will be on view at the Canada Pavilion as part of the 53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia 2009. On view from 7 June to 22 November 2009, La Biennale di Venezia is the longest-running and most prestigious international venue for presenting contemporary visual art.

The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House (University of Toronto), which proposed Mark Lewis, is the first institution in Canada to commission a new project by the artist. Barbara Fischer, the Commissioner/Curator for the Canada Pavilion is Director/Curator at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.

Distinguished by their extraordinary capacity to express and explore place, Lewis’s films have often been described as pure temporal experiences. His visually evocative, predominantly silent films focus on incidental places encountered in everyday life. His nuanced depictions of the contemporary city transform seemingly quotidian activities into profound cinematic observations.

Mark Lewis’s films for the Canada Pavilion combine documentary footage and dramatic action with his recent interest in the historical technique of rear projection, resulting in works that explore the history of place and the passage of time. The four autonomous works are presented together in a spatial syntax of oppositions that characterize some of the social tensions and spatial complexities that mark urban modernity as well as the conditions and potential of film as a modern medium. TD Centre, 54th Floor (2009) features a vertiginous view of the pulse of downtown traffic from the 54th floor of Mies van der Rohe’s iconic office tower in Toronto. In the film Cold Morning (2009), also shot in Toronto, Lewis shifts perspective by focusing on the actions of someone who lives and makes his home on the street during one of winter’s coldest days. With the medium of rear projection, Lewis elaborates the spatial dissociation more explicitly at the level of film itself. Set against the autonomous backdrop of pedestrian traffic within a public market, The Fight (2008) observes the to-and-fro of physical conflict without apparent resolution, while Nathan Phillips Square, A Winter’s Night, Skating (2009) follows the undulating narrative of lovers seemingly immersed in the open dream space of an urban skating rink. The simultaneity of two temporal and spatial dimensions within one picture, already an aspect of the history of the avant-garde’s pictorial interests, challenges the visual experience of backgrounds as mere setting.

“The perceptual oscillation between foreground and background found in Lewis’s exploration of rear projection compels questions concerning the weight sustained by starring and supporting roles, and between action and setting.

These questions continue to haunt modernity, architecture, as well as film, even within or precisely at the moment of its digital implosion,” says Barbara Fischer.

In conjunction with Cold Morning, special screenings of Backstory (2009), Lewis’s documentary on rear projection, will take place offsite during the press preview dates. Rear projection forms an integral part of a larger fascination with the history and techniques of film that have conceptually informed the artist’s work throughout his career. Backstory profiles the Hansards of Hansard Enterprises, a small, family-run production company that has provided background definition to some of Hollywood’s most memorable cinematic moments for over 70 years. According the Lewis, “the film is a definitive American story about a family that not only lived the American dream, but also projected its background. Combining original footage and movie clips, the documentary shows how illusion and reality are interchangeable, a process that is both beautiful and quintessentially modern.”

Screenings will take place at the Auditorium Santa Margherita, Ca’Foscari, Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro 3689 as follows:

June 3: 14:00 to 19:30
(every hour on the hour with the last screening at 19:00)

June 4, 5, and 6: 09:00 to 23:00
(every hour on the hour with the last screening at 22:00)

La Biennale di Venezia | Canada | Mark Lewis | Cold Moning | Justina M. Barnicke Gallery | Toronto |

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