Nestled in 401 Richmond’s mystifying halls is A Space Gallery and their featured exhibition for the Contact Photography Festival: Configurations by Mike Hoolboom and Jorge Lozano, two Canadian pioneers of contemporary photography that have mastered impure cinema. Drawing from the artists’ diverse experiences and idiosyncrasies, this two-person exhibition converges their works to stimulate discussion on the unique, thought-provoking juxtapositions between their themes. The works explore many socio-cultural and technological developments, most prominently the pervasive and problematic hegemony of medical science in society.
Mike Hoolboom, Aftermath. Photo: Simon Termine
The passion that Hoolbloom and Lozano demonstrate is wholly evident, given the sheer quantity and thematic depth of their works. Visitors are constantly flanked by different films that, while fully functioning independently, complement and embolden each other. Antiquated moving images, current news clips, social media, sampled movie scenes, candid films, abstract animations, and medical advertisements are all collaged into each piece. This becomes even more diverse with the various editing strategies and videographic effects that construct those collages, including superimpositions, deteriorated film, and audio looping. The variety is comprehensive – almost overwhelmingly so – yet it is appropriate in order to sufficiently convey the complex message.
Jorge Lozano, Mode of Production, 2009, film still. Courtesy of the artists
Medical science and human anatomy comprised are among the main focal points of the artists’ works. More specifically, it is how those elements influence and are influenced by the political. Hoolbloom’s Scrapbook, for instance, delves into pharmacopornography (coined by Paul B. Precaido in his book, Testo Junkie) and how medicine has been economically and socially fetishized for the purpose of regulating bodies. Healing practice has increasingly shifted towards a practice of biological enhancement and control, with unforeseen, or possibly neglected and ignored, consequences. Scrapbook portrays this concept by weaving a pharmacological, erotic, and abstract video into an eerie critique of society and lingering sources of marginalization.
Installation view with Mike Hoolboom, Scrapbook. Photo: Simon Termine
Another facet that the artists explore is the notion of public violence, often drawing from their personal experiences for deeper resonance. Lozano presents here a host of works that delve into violence pervading in his hometown of Cali, Columbia, expertly employing documentary and news clips that offer a multi-faceted perspective on those circumstances. Bold and insightful, his aim for the audience is to empathize and educate.
Installation view with Jorge Lozano Thoughts from below. Photo: Simon Termine
While Hoolbloom and Lozano approach different issues, it is wholly apparent how their works are in constant discourse with one another and, consequently, why they are interdependent as much as they are. Just as with the issues they explore, there is an inherent complexity to their films that requires patience and contemplation, yet it effectively presents a forum for the discussions that must be had.
*Exhibition information: May 3 – June 29, 2019, A Space Gallery, 401 Richmond Street West, #110, Toronto. Gallery hours: Tue – Fri, 11 am – 5 pm, Sat, 12 – 5 pm.
Part of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival