For the past year and a half, I have been assiting Chris Gehman with the massive job of editing Explosion in the Movie Machine. Published by the Images Festival and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, Explosion is a collection of essays and documents taking on artist film and video practices in the Toronto region over the last thirty years. To launch the book, Gehman organized a panel discussion around censorship, a once galvanizing agenda that is now largely unconsidered as festivals and galleries reap the benefits of what Gehman characterizes as a truce between artists and the province’s censor board. Within the context of a discussion about censorship, and considering the fact that so much of what makes up Explosions are critical historical analyses (alongside a selection of primary documents), it raises a question about how writers can approach the literal writing of history. How can this relay of experience either reinforce or challenge structures of power that otherwise work to maintain their own perpetuation? Artist film and video often has to negotiate its relationship to the film industry, be it through access to resources or cultivating modes of viewership. Artists of colour, regardless of where they practice, have to negotiate social structures that often work to alienate or silence. Artists of diverse cultural backgrounds often have to translate between notions of what is socially acceptable or not, as when Wanda Nanibush, as part of the panel discussion, pointed out that Aboriginal communities do not necessarily share the criteria the censor board uses to judge films suitable for children. Gehman, in compiling Explosion, worked very hard to make literal room for divergent histories and the book represents a kind of solidarity, a place for critical reflection on artists’ film and video practices in this city that acknowledges the larger structures of power at play while denying that they account for all that makes this region vibrant. So, what else can we do to write history differently, in ways that surpass structural and social censorships?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s