Autumn 2008 / Life on Campus
Art in Venice

U of T curator Barbara Fischer is headed to the 2009 Venice Biennale with artist Mark Lewis


The Canada Council for the Arts has selected U of T gallery director Barbara Fischer and Hamilton-born artist Mark Lewis to represent Canada at the 2009 Venice Biennale of Visual Art, a major international exhibition of contemporary art. Fischer, director of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, will curate a short, silent film by Lewis titled Romance, which uses the classic film technique of rear projection combined with state-of-the-art digital technology. Although Lewis is the film’s creative force, Fischer will manage the exhibition’s logistics, handling everything from fundraising to installing the work to creating an accompanying publication.

In Mark Lewis's Rush Hour, Morning and Evening (2003), pedestrians' shadows are seen upside down.

In Mark Lewis's Rush Hour, Morning and Evening (2003), pedestrians' shadows are seen upside down.

Lewis, who lives in London, England, shoots his films using 35-mm film, a professional crew, actors, cranes, sets and special effects. He edits them, and then transfers the final product to laser disc or DVD to project them in the gallery.

Unlike mainstream feature films, Lewis’s works critique conventional cinema, encouraging viewers to be aware of the clichés, conventions and fragmentary nature of film. He examines the different ways that a work of art can be both experienced in time and represent time. Fischer calls Lewis’s cinematic art “quietly majestic.”

For Fischer, who will travel to Venice next June, the biennale marks a high point in a 25-year career devoted to researching and curating contemporary art in Canada and the world. “My passion in life is to make contemporary art more visible,” she says. “This is a huge honour.”


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