“Lewis makes his own unique display of visibility. In focusing his spectators’ attention and expectations, he proposes a poetics of film that takes movement as the starting point. The films seem so simple, yet there is so much to see.” Nancy Tousely - CANADIAN ART
This trilogy of short films, Cold Morning, by Canadian and internationally renowned visual artist Mark Lewis Mark Lewis commissioned and curated by Barbara Fisher from the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery as the official Canadian representative at the Venice Biennale (53rd International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia), the world’s oldest and most prestigious Biennale of contemporary art. Cold Morning was produced by Mark Lewis Studio Inc. in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada.
In this trilogy artist Mark Lewis returns to his exploration of urban landscapes to create a tableau of Toronto scenes in winter that are both familiar and engagingly elusive.
By turning his unblinking lens on the quotidian interactions of people in their environment, Lewis probes a compelling experiential narrative. Contextualized by the modernist architectural environment in which his chosen subjects move, these contemplative films examine the influence of the urban fabric and, to a lesser extent, climate, on our lives.
Lewis is more than a passive observer of life around him. His fascination with structuralist cinema traditions conveys a nuanced and layered referencing of film techniques, from the verisimilitude of an unedited, one-take composition (Cold Morning) to the deliberately artificial rendering of rear projection (Nathan Phillips Square). Whether employing actors and individuals or casting the city as protagonist (TD Centre, 54th Floor), Lewis brings to each film a meditative grace in which time can seem to stand still. This is heightened by the fact that each work is silent, thereby compelling the viewer to focus on Lewis’ spatial explorations achieved through his use of static and moving cameras.
In Nathan Phillips Square, a couple’s frolicking courtship on skates is made dreamlike by the visually contrasting realities of foreground and background. The gritty, sidewalk start to the day for a homeless man struggling to bring order to his environment is the subject of Cold Morning. And an impassive surveillance of the cityscape from on high in TD Centre, 54th Floor shows street life at a poetic distance.
In the accompanying extra material, the artist's work is examined by Venice Biennale curator Barbara Fischer as well as by artist Mark Lewis himself. This playlist provides fascinating insight and understanding of one of Canada's most engaging visual artists working in film-based media.
"Cinema was built upon illusion and by its slight of hand we have been tricked into believing what is virtually impossible. We have participated in the fakery, willingly dispensing with reason and going along with the deception in order to take the ride. Lewis, by representing what is perceived in an unreal way, takes us on small journeys where believability is kept balanced just enough to allow for the trip." Julie Oakes - Vie des Arts
Cold Morning produced by Mark Lewis Studio Inc. in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada
Executive Producer - Michael White
Producer (NFB) - Gerry Flahive
Executive Producer (NFB) - Silva Basmajian