Mike Hoolboom: Portraits

Monday, January 17, 2011 - 7:30 pm

Programmed by Amy Kazymerchyk

When Roland Barthes discovered a photo of his mother as a child in a winter garden, he dreamt about enlarging it ad infinitum in order to reach her very being in the finest grain and know her truth. However, enlarging distorts and ruptures an image; rather than revealing truth or essence, the apparition of a loved one scatters. Only the factuality of the photograph’s technology and materials remains. In Mike Hoolboom’s portraits, the essence of his friends and family is protected from this scrutiny. Rather, Hoolboom enlarges, through extraction, montage, collage and repetition, the image-likenesses of our collective past, present and future — our meta selves. Through this macro gleaning of our shared cultural image bank (home movies, photo albums, music videos, commercials, medical imaging, scientific analysis, Hollywood films), he regards the entwinement of his subjects in the mediums of representation, in the vast weave of truths and likenesses, in the complexity of being and not being in a world of reproductions and facsimiles.

Mike Hoolboom is a Toronto-based artist working in film and video. Widely considered one of Canada’s pre-eminent experimental filmmakers, he is a prolific creator whose works have screened in more than four hundred festivals, garnering some thirty awards. He was the 2009 recipient of the Bell Award in Video Art, given annually to a Canadian artist who has made an exceptional contribution to the art form. Hoolboom has published a pair of interview books with Canadian media artists, Practical Dreamers: Conversations with Media Artists (Coach House Press, 2008) and Inside the Pleasure Dome: Fringe Film in Canada (Coach House Press, 2001). In 1998 he authored Plague Years (YYZ Books) a tongue-in-chic autobiography. 

Monday January 17th

Mark. 2009, Video, 70 mins.
“Touching portrait of a lost friend. This moving film tells the story of Hoolboom’s friend and collaborator Mark Karbusicky. Interviews with Mark’s friends and family, as well as his lover, are interwoven with home movies, offering a glimpse into the life of this generous, loving and enigmatic figure. A powerful testimony to the enduring impact of our actions on the lives of others.” (Edinburgh Festival)


Imitations of Life. 2003, Video, 70 mins.
"Major essay filmmaking from Canada's Hoolboom... An ambient assembly of diverse footages, from ads to classic clips, home movies to video diaries. Imitations explores the compulsion to document reality and the fissure between image and experience. Following the early childhood of his nephew Jack, Hoolboom delivers a profound, elegiac but often wryly humorous enquiry into the role of representation in the contemporary mindset. The presiding tone might be Markersque but the voice is Hoolboom's own, melancholy, moving and committed. It all adds up to a poetic, persuasive evaluation of the disquieting new world we are making, and the attendant disappearances along that road." Time Out, London


Monday January 24

Public Lighting. 2004, Video, 76 mins.
"Public Lighting is a meditation on photography and the creation of images that can capture, replace and outlive our experiences. It's a video film in seven parts, related in both subject and sentiment to the wonderful Imitations of Life. Each chapter is a case study of the different types of personality that have been identified by the young author who guides us through the prologue. The first, a gay man, takes us on a tour of the bars and restaurants where his affairs have ended, recounting ironic stories of his many lovers. An homage to Philip Glass is incongruously followed by Hey Madonna, a confessional letter to the singer from a fan who is HIV positive. Carolynne celebrates another birthday, but has lost her memory to television. At least she has a camera. Hiro lives life at a distance, rarely venturing out beyond the lens, and an anxious young model recounts poignant moments from her past. Few filmmakers use re-appropriated footage in such an emotive way: at once humorous and incisive, these chains of images inevitably lead us back to parts of ourselves. Hoolboom's recent work is in profound sympathy with the human condition that speaks directly to our hearts." Mark Webber, London Film Festival


Tom. 2002-2009, Video, 53 mins.
World Premiere of Newly Re-edited Version! 
'One of the pleasures of the fetish scene is you don't have to be beautiful to be a narcissist,' says New York filmmaker Tom Chomont. 'All of the ugly kids from high school can have their day in the spotlight.' It's hard to believe that Chomont was ever one of the ugly kids, but he certainly gets his day in the spotlight in this avant-garde documentary by Mike Hoolboom. In Tom, Chomont's life unfurls in a style as unique as his own story. Found footage and archival film (including a fascinating survey of New York City over the years), home movies, photos and new video 'stream past in a hypnotic rush', says Hoolboom, 'offering a subject whose skin is cinema, whose flesh and blood have been remade into the picture plane.' Add in Chomont's recollections of infanticide, sex with his own brother, S&M, fetishism, visions of a white light that illuminates both the beginning and end of life, and excerpts from some of his own films, and Tom evolves into a deeply emotional portrait of a lifelong outlaw now battling both HIV and Parkinson' disease. This is a film that evokes as much as it depicts, and alludes as much as it describes. Hoolboom calls it 'cinema as deja vu or deja voodoo'. We call it one of the most spellbinding and unforgettable films in this year's festival." San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Festival