Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Mark Lewis Films 1995-2000 on view from 20 October 2000 to 4 February 2001

Ottawa, Canada - October 30, 2000


 « Mark Lewis Films 1995-2000 à l'affiche du 20 octobre 2000 au 4 février 2001 » 
"Film is an old invention," says Canada's Mark Lewis. "It's a bit dusty, and artists are picking over its remains, re-thinking its history." Fascinated by cinema, its social phenomenon, and its power to seduce, Mark Lewis began to experiment with film in the mid-1990s. The artist premises much of his work on the idea that cinema is entering its terminal phase as the medium of choice for mass artistic expression. Mark Lewis Films 1995-2000, an exhibition of installations and screenings, is organized by the National Gallery of Canada and is on view from 21 October 2000 to 4 February 2001. Admission is free.
The media are invited to attend the pre-opening MEET THE ARTIST public lecture on Friday 20 October at 12:15 pm in the Auditorium. Those interested in joining the media preview of the exhibition, after the artist talk, are asked to register at the media table in front of the Auditorium. Mark Lewis and Janice Seline, Curator, Media Arts will lead the tour in the Contemporary Galleries.

Mark Lewis's productions have closer ties to the world of independent cinema than to the low-tech video art projects of the recent past. He uses the full range of cinemascope, shoots on 35 mm film, teams up with professional crews and actors, and uses extensive lighting, cranes and sets. Once shot, Lewis either projects the films onto wide screens, or transfers them to video disc to finally present them on high-quality video projectors. In Mark Lewis Films 1995-2000, four such video projections will be presented in the National Gallery of Canada's upper contemporary galleries.

Mark Lewis shares the name of the main character in the 1959 psychological thriller Peeping Tom, a classic by Michael Powell. As one of cinema's most notorious killers, Mark Lewis, the character, is a filmmaker in whose hands the camera becomes both an agent and instrument of death. In Peeping Tom (2000), Mark Lewis, the artist, re-creates the scenes of Powell's film, setting it in the original London locations. Lewis is able to allow himself an unusual degree of licence since the main character's film, although often cited as close to completion in the 1959 thriller, never actually surfaces.

The Pitch (1998) is a work that focuses on the extra, a role often omitted in the credit lines of a film. Centrale (1999) refers back to the stationary recording of actuality pioneered by Cecil Hepworth and other early film experimenters. Its focus is on a street scene observed through a window. Smithfield (2000), rejoices in the movement of the camera, echoing, in an almost childish pleasure, the works of the Lumière Brothers and the origins of cinema.

Film Screenings in the Auditorium
Sunday 22 October and Thursday 28 December at 3 pm Two Impossible Films, by Mark Lewis (1995-97, 28 min.). Free admission. That moment when the lights dim and the movie begins is full of possibility, and Mark Lewis is right there in the seat beside you. Two Impossible Films, Lewis's earliest film, exploits the excitement that mounts during opening scenes, title, and credits. The film is based on two projects that were never realized. One involves Sergei Eisenstein's plan, post-1924, to make a feature-length film version of Marx's Das Kapital. The other involves Samuel Goldwyn's idea to produce "the greatest love story from the world's most famous doctor of love", an attempt in the 1920s to get Sigmund Freud to write a screenplay for a love story.

Public Opening
The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday 21 October at 2 pm in the Upper Contemporary Galleries. The artist will be present.

To accompany the exhibition, Film and Video Umbrella, London, England, published a bilingual catalogue in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada and the Institute of Visual Arts (inova), University of Wisconsin. It includes essays by Charles Esche, Research fellow at Edinburgh College of Art and Editor of Afterall art journal; Steven Bode, Director of Film and Video Umbrella in London, England; Catherine Pavlovic, Curator, Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Geneva; and Lizzie Francke, Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and author of Script Girls: Women Screenwriters in Hollywood, 1994. Also featured is an interview with the artist conducted by Jérôme Sans, Director of Le Palais de Tokyo and Adjunct Curator at the Institute of Visual Arts (inova), Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Copies are available in The Bookstore for $29.95.

The National Gallery of Canada is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm; Thursdays to 8 pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Louise Soucy
Chief, Marketing and Communications
tel. (613) 990-3142