Close your eyes and visualize an obstacle, a barrier of some kind. Does it have a soft or a hard opening? Is it flexible like a fleshy membrane or stiff like glass? Could it be an invisible energy field or a subtle cultural border?
Imagine your body weaving through this massive volume: pressing/dipping/stretching/shifting/curving. Round and around, you begin to move, to dance. The obstruction meets your force, face-to-face, body-to-body. When you push you are pulled; when you turn you are turned. Spinning and slipping, reflecting and deflecting, you lose track of outside with inside. Your subjectivity catches against objective reality. A blurred version of yourself—doubled, tripled, quadrupled—you have eight arms and legs for days. You becomes them.
This is the kind of pulsing choreography explored in Oliver Husain’s new experimental video installation, FRENCH EXIT. Animated by a revolving glass door, entrances lead to exits as inside collapses with outside. Like a game, the work engages a set of rules that play out over the course of the video through methods of improvisation and visual instruction. Refracted through transparent layers and split into lenticular bands, the dancers’ bodies entangle within both the apparatus that records their actions and the architectural space in which they move. Individuality is interrupted while mirrored multiplicity proliferates.
As accompaniment, Husain will present new drawings based on a panoramic photo series of West Edmonton Mall. Entitled Epilogue - ISM3D at WEM, the drawings survey a replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship, La Santa María. Extending the artist’s recent video project Isla Santa Maria 3D, these works picture the overlapping politics of colonialism within the apparent dazzle of capitalism.
Oliver Husain is a filmmaker and artist based in Toronto. He uses a wide range of cinematic languages and visual codes – such as dance, puppetry and animation – to disassemble and subvert fixed readings of the original material. His installations, performances and films set up narratives that charm or fold the views into questioning their role as a spectator or subject.
Recent solo exhibitions include Roving at the Remai Modern and Isla Santa Maria 3D at Gallery TPW. His films have been shown at MAK Vienna, Surrey Art Gallery and NKV Wiesbadan and screened at Reel Asian Film Festival, Toronto, Mumbai International Film Festival and Bangalore Queer Film Festivals.
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