Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reviews out today: Tacita Dean's After-Images

Screenings for the Images Festival officially end today, but some related gallery shows continue for a few weeks. Today the National Post published my reviews of three of these shows. Here's an excerpt:

Tacita Dean at Gallery TPW
56 Ossington Ave.

British artist Tacita Dean creates a beautiful, light-soaked homage to the late Merce Cunningham in her film Craneway Event. Yet Craneway isn't just for dance fans. Though it documents three days of Cunningham putting his company through rehearsal paces, it evokes broader human themes, among them the breathtakingly rapid passage of time, the ever-present edge of mortality and the unfair physical overhauls of aging. The film opens with a lone pelican practicing takeoff before flying out of the frame. Dean's camera then takes us into Craneway Pavilion, a massive Ford plant turned arts venue in Richmond, Calif. This building, perched at harbour's edge with soaring glass walls on three sides, is a key part of the film, providing a fragile, translucent shell for small, ephemeral human actions and a strong, rectilinear frame for massive cargo ships and cliffs outside. The Craneway's floor is lined with reflective material so that, by movie's end, it seems dancers are suspended between earth and sky. Granted, reaching this vision with Dean takes patience--the film runs 108 minutes -- but it's well rewarded in meditative, reverent moods and gorgeous, glowing imagery. Cunningham, a 90-year-old wheelchair-bound Methuselah when surrounded by youthful, flexible dancers, adds a Zen koan or two-- "It doesn't matter," he directs a young plie-er, "You need to get where you're going." Shortly after Craneway was filmed, Cunningham's own pelican soul "got going" to the great beyond. Accordingly, one leaves this film acutely aware of how one's own body might be moving, whether on the physical plane, the spiritual plane or both. (To April 24; screenings Tuesdays through Saturdays 12:30 and 3 p.m., Thursdays 7 p.m.)

Image from Craneway Event from

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