NASHVILLE, TN. The Frist Center for the Visual Arts opens today Mike Hoolboom: Imitations of Life in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery. Working on the fringe of contemporary filmmaking, Toronto artist Mike Hoolboom has gained international acclaim for works that poetically explore cultural desires, memories and visions of the future. In dissecting and reconstructing existing films, Hoolboom strives to give new meanings to this visual language, not by adding to it, but by mixing and recycling things already filmed. The artist will discuss his work at an Artists Perspective talk Saturday, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Frist Center. The exhibition is organized by the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and will be on view through June 7, 2009.
Hoolbooms ten-part Imitations of Life film, made in 2003, explores the human experience through a convergence of images drawn from mainstream cinema, newsreels and science fiction films. In the three selected segments on view at the Frist Center, Hoolboom shapes a meta-narrative in which the psychological history of the 20th centuryits dreams, nightmares, mass delusions and visions for the futureis played back to us in a mix-tape of personal and cultural memories.
The varied footage Hoolboom uses no longer has its original soundtrack. Instead, his film is accompanied by voicesnarrators or commentators whose memories and ruminations on humanitys dark impulses stand in counterpoint to the original intent of the filmmakers, who may have only sought to entertain or instruct, but who have inadvertently captured something disturbing about the human psyche.
The artificiality of Hoolbooms montages reminds us that films are not really about life, but about its imitation in a medium that is often mistaken for reality because it perpetuates so many of the same illusions, says Mark Scala, chief curator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Imitations of Life interweaves the familiar with the exotic, making connections between personal life and the broad sweep of history.
Hoolbooms interest in the medium of film began when he was a teenager growing up in a suburb of Toronto, where he began making movies with his fathers Super 8 camera. Hooked on the medium, he went on to study filmmaking at Ontarios Sheridan College.
While still in school, Hoolboom developed close friendships with other budding filmmakers interested in pushing the boundaries of the medium. He was a co-founder of Pleasure Dome, a film and video group that created a vibrant underground film community in Toronto during the 1980s and 1990s by sponsoring film festivals and late night showings in the city.
Hoolbooms works, which include more than 50 videos and films, have been shown in more than 300 film festivals worldwide. Twice, in 1993 and 1996, he received the award for best Canadian short film at the Toronto International Film Festival.