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Down-to-earth honesty of home movies on display

Familiarity can breed contempt, as the expression goes, but not at Open Space.

Familiarity can breed contempt, as the expression goes, but not at Open Space.

At the urban performance space and showcase for contemporary art still going strong after 39 years, familiarity breeds creativity in Drifter's Clip, a pair of media installations with a cinematic undercurrent on view until Saturday.

Described as "a panorama of 8mm and a shrine to westerns," the visual arts event contrasts Mayne Island artist Jeremy Borsos's homage to 8mm film with Vancouver-based DRIL collective's tribute to that Wild West staple, the tumbleweed.

The latest chapter in his Antithetical Archive study, Borsos's Been Poll is a 27-channel projection of footage taken by home movie cameras from his growing 8mm collection.

Borsos says his first efforts were based on reels acquired through friends, newspaper solicitations and other sources, his subject being that "universal response to the camera's gaze" -the wave.

"Home movies produced a very different, very honest expression compared to what was seen in theatres," Borsos notes in his artist's statement. During a search that found him witnessing the lives of dozens of potential subjects, he used 60 reels to find 12 clips from which he culled nine artistically digitized examples of people waving at the home movie camera.

"In a way, home movies might be considered the missing link between photography and cinema," Borsos says.

"People used film and structured what they shot like still photography," adds Open Space executive director Helen Marzolf.

Marzolf was intrigued by Borsos's work after seeing it in Vancouver, as well as Move It On Over, DRIL's project inspired by its "absurd fascination" with the iconic symbol in Hollywood westerns when it was on view at Vancouver's Shudder Gallery.

"It's interesting to see how these artists are using montage and looking through the archive of film and thinking of something no one would pick up on," Marzolf said. "Both refer to the postwar period. Jeremy uses media popular from the late 1930s to the 1970s, and similarly the western enjoyed its greatest popularity during that period."

DRIL's installation uses tumbleweed as a building, emphasizing its architectural qualities, and a video compilation of clips focuses on conventional uses.

Described as "a harbinger or witness of hardship and conflict," the camera-friendly plant is also rendered surreal in the piece, as when a lone tumbleweed is personified as it sits in a plush velvet armchair watching TV.

By transposing it from the celluloid badlands into a gallery, the tumbleweed is framed "within a more intimate and ambiguous relationship to the viewer, providing space for new meanings and interpretations to surface," the collective says. As for the Borsos project, Marzolf says viewers will feel like they've experienced something from their own personal history.

"On the one hand it's so familiar and intimate. It's amateur footage yet it's so revealing," said Marzolf, noting a "room full of narratives" Borsos has creatively stitched together using fragments of the real lives of strangers is particularly fascinating.

Drifter's Clip closes Saturday at 7 p.m. with responses by artist John Luna, a performance by the Victoria Phonographers Union and appearances by Borsos and DRIL artists Dylan McHugh, Rachel White, Ian Prentice and Leisha O'Donohue.

Open Space, 510 Fort St., is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon-5 p.m.

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