Past Exhibition

November 19, 2009—January 16, 2010

Carol Sawyer


The proscenium arch frames and contains the fictional space of the play – making it seem whole and to some extent, believable. The edges of the frame in cinema serve a similar unifying function. The video Proscenium disrupts and plays with the cinematic frame and one’s sense of continuity. The stage in a dilapidated Vaudeville theatre (Vancouver’s Pantages Theatre) is shot with two separate cameras that each show exactly half of the proscenium arch and, due to the cone-like field-of-view of each lens, an overlapping portion of the stage area beyond. This overlap creates a space that is fictional: you see four doors, where the actual theatre has only two. The unifying influence of the proscenium makes the image seem whole and believable, but this truthful appearance is repeatedly disrupted by events at or near the seam where the two images meet.

Proscenium brings together ideas and strategies that have been of ongoing interest in Sawyer’s work: an investigation of how representations are constructed; the melancholic power of the fragment; the pleasures of illusion; and the persistent desire to believe what we see. Proscenium is a fiction sutured together from fragments, using the idea of the seam as a literal motif, placing a rupture in the centre of the image.

Also included in the exhibition are photographs of the characters in the video, caught in apparently unguarded ―off-stage‖ moments. Up close, they and their costumes exhibit signs of wear and tear not apparent in the video, revealing the seams and flaws in the construction of their onstage personae. Many of the images are mounted in elaborate oval frames that echo the gilded luxury of the proscenium arch in the video.

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