Presented in partnership with A Space Gallery
Configurations is a two-person exhibition that brings the parallel practices of Mike Hoolboom and Jorge Lozano into dialogue. Both are prolific and pioneering Canadian video artists who celebrate an impure cinema. Their works are being shown together for the first time in a gallery for several reasons, not least of which is to create an opportunity for unlikely juxtapositions, to produce an open field of reading for their viewers.
Grounded in an understanding of cinema as a daily practice of translation, Hoolboom and Lozano have found kinship, often jogging back and forth between their apartments in Toronto to share the latest version of their videos, offering feedback and critical appraisals. Their backgrounds working in arts collectives initiated an integrated vision of production, distribution, and exhibition. A do-it-yourself ethos and an interest in evolving technologies inform their work on a production level. Both have made more than 100 videos and, having worked through decades of massive change in methods of producing moving images, they have embraced frenzy in speed and scale.
Both artists are influenced by an experimental and personal relationship to the malleability of moving images, found footage, and archival images. Opening up new, and in turns fantastical and critical, approaches to the archives of formerly hegemonic institutions, some of their projects take on colonial medical practices and disaster relief, “detourning” them into something altogether new where unequal yet mutual desire may reside. The onslaught of images from life, television, film, and social media, in the hands of these artists, is turned into a swirling cascade of old and new that incessantly asks how one can make moments visible again. Both Hoolboom and Lozano make work that uses form and content from lens-based practices to ask how we can make images work with us, in the battle against forgetting.
The deeply committed debates of the late 1980s around inclusion and identity were formative for both artists, and they continue to make personal work that is grounded in the ever-present political. Through visual poetry and philosophical meanderings and explorations, they ruminate on the socially complex conditions that encircle us. Lozano has dealt with the violence of his hometown of Cali, Colombia, and Hoolboom has made work that situates AIDS in an embodied and political context. Both men continue to weigh in on the ongoing contestation of Palestine. They have also both made work about family: Lozano’s Ima(genes) (2004) addresses the artist’s mother, while Hoolboom considers his father in 27 Thoughts About My Dad (2018). Both make portraits focusing on the marginal and the refuseniks; Hoolboom has made documentaries about his close friends Tom Chomont, a key figure in New York fringe culture, and punk maestro Mark Karbusicky, while Lozano has made short films about his chronically ill cousin, and about friends living in Toronto illegally.
Both artists push images to their limits—celluloid deteriorates, video becomes pixelated, and voices loop, slowly stuttering, turning a simple phrase into a libidinal sigh for the unspoken cruelty of reducing a complex life into an image. Lozano and Hoolboom question and complicate boundaries while developing new configurations that continually challenge how we understand the content and form of their practices. They defy genre while encompassing and serving up excesses of several conventional modes of address, always finding ways to implicate themselves in their work as they embody radical curiosity and independence.
Curated by Vicky Moufawad-Paul