Locks Gallery proposes something completely different for the new year: two simultaneous and complementary exhibitions, running on the two floors of the gallery. On the first floor is 1967, a multi-channel video and sound installation by Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib with C. Spencer Yeh, and on the second floor (which for this purpose was transformed into a mini-theater) is a collection of short videos as well as two feature length films (shown in the back room), curated by Lilly Wei and titled True Stories.
1967 is an installation of documentary, fictional and experimental videos that cover the walls of the gallery. Resembling an enormous walk-in kaleidoscope, this exhibition contains original footage from the Montreal’s 1967 and Shanghai’s 2010 World Expositions, clips from Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise, and footage of past and present protests specked with images taken from rare films made during China’s Cultural Revolution. The viewer has the option to pick up a set of headphones from a nearby stool and watch the videos in conjunction with sound, or just walk through, in and out of the image (the shadows that the viewers cast onto the walls become part of the installation). Although based on Godard’s 1967 film La Chinoise, the installation defies narrative and opts to stand in as a commentary on the artist-revolutionary duality, on the artist’s role as a revolutionary in a specific social or political realm: the artist’s internal struggle as a potential dissident, the artist’s heightened awareness of state manipulation, even the artist as sheepish collaborator. 1967 is successful in evoking questions about the artist’s place and identity as part of a place (past and present), and the artist’s social or political duties.
I spent less time with True Stories, a collection of videos based on the concept and practice of documentary. If you have some time on your hands, it is worth seeing at least the short videos, which start rotating every two hours at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm. The carefully curated exhibition aims to investigate not only the idea of documentary as a truthful reportage, but also the idea of perception as a manipulator of truth and fact. The idea/question behind the exhibition is brilliant: what constitutes a ‘real’ documentary, when each documentary, no matter how ‘real’ it is intended to be, becomes altered through the process of viewing, when it always altered by perception? This is a question every artist should ask him or herself over and over again; it’s a question no artist can really avoid. The visual artist must always be aware of the power of individual perception, regardless of content or intent. The artists shown in this exhibition come from an array of backgrounds: the U.S., the U.K., Turkey, Israel, Iceland, China, etc., and are part of a larger international circuit, each bringing her own unique spin to the ‘true story.’
The two shows are running until February 25th. There will be an artist’s reception on February 3rd.