In case you hadn’t noticed, Images is a very queer festival, specially this this year, with several local and international queer artists of note. Here are a few highlights.
At A Space, national treasures John Greyson and Stephen Andrews each show new work alongside German superstar Hito Steyerl. Greyson’s piece 14.3 Seconds is an incredibly poignant and imaginative meditation on the US forces’ bombing of the Iraqi film archive. A journalist salvaged from the rubble eight pieces of film totalling merely 14.3 seconds which Greyson acquired. The video consists of a wide range of speculative narratives cobbled together by two fictional characters, a US soldier and an Iraqi translator, given the task of “restoring” the entire archive from the scraps.
Andrews’ work is a selection of some of his stunning drawings based on found digital photographs from the Iraq War. Many of these images are “toxic” in their original forms, almost impossible to look at. Maintaining their power to implicate us, he transforms them through the abstraction of a grid of four-colour dots into objects of reflection, compelling us to, in Andrews’ words, “take it personally.” All three artists excel at reframing, reimagining and recontextualizing found images to create new stories, ideas and feelings (Fri, Mar 28 to May 2, 401 Richmond St W, #110).
Deirdre Logue is represented in the strong, all-women group show Ceremonial Actions at Harbourfront with an installation of her ongoing performance project Rough Count. She has set herself the intentionally impossible task of counting (and recounting) every piece of confetti in a bag. Her bound-to-fail game is spread over eight monitors, each showing Logue on a different counting day at various stages of her obsessive project. The monotony and repetition of her self-imposed task is nicely undercut by her hesitations and mistakes, which remind us that she is an all-too-flawed human and not a calculator (till Sun, Apr 27, 235 Queens Quay W). Nearby at the Power Plant is Sadie Benning‘s two-screen, animated tour-de-force Play Pause and at the Brigantine Room is Winnipeg artist Daniel Barrow’s live animation performance (see story on the Toronto page of Xtra.ca).
Showing with GB Jones’s The Lollipop Generation (see above) is the delightful stop-action animated short Foodie by Fiona Smyth and Allyson Mitchell. The fest also offers a special performance by legendary New York artist Charles Atlas, the debut of a new collaboration with a fellow New Yorker Alan Licht (9:30pm, Fri, Apr 11 at Workman Theatre, 1001 Queen St W), and screening Atlas’s Hail the New Puritan, a feature on choreographer Michael Clark and 1980s bohemian London (7pm, Wed, Apr 9, Workman). Undertones, the Nelson Henricks‘ video retrospective continues at Gallery 44 (till Sat, Apr 12, 401 Richmond St W, #120; RM Vaughan interviews him at 3pm on Sat, Apr 3). And closing the fest is BH Yael‘s video essay on the environment and apocalypse, Trading the Future (7pm, Apr 13, Workman Theatre).
Finally, look for the jaw-dropping video projection Maid in South Africa by the ferociously iconoclastic South African artist Steven Cohen. The artist somehow convinced his family’s elderly black maid (who has been in their employ for more than half a century) to go about her cleaning routines gussied up like a Las Vegas showgirl, doing a striptease as she motors through her chores. The piece is a spectacular condemnation of racialized economic slavery and an intimate collusion between a man and the woman who raised him (Sat, Apr 5 to May 10 at V-Tape, 401 Richmond St W, # 452).
Cohen’s audacious video is sure to provoke not just gasps but heated debate — just as the Images Festival should.