Critical Writing Index

Video Works: Western Front Video

by Karen Knights

Video Guide, 1985, v. 8, no. 1, pp. 4-5

Knight makes evident the remarkable contributions of Vancouver Based center ‘Western Front Video’ to video art practices. The center was founded in 1973 by eight artists who “wanted to create a space for the exploration and creation of new art forms”. ( The center, established soon after the emergence of the Portapak, began producing an impressive number of works, allowing them to stand at the forefront of these experiments with video as an artistic medium.

The ‘Video Works’ screening, organized by the center and curated by Colin Griffiths, offers a diverse line up of 22 video works of local artists closely connected to the center, and range from Cornucopia, an intellectual study by General Idea, to the video verite style documentaries of art happenings in 1979, Relican Wedding and Mondo Arte Cabaret. While the direct communication of artist to viewer remains an important strategy throughout these video works, the medium's influence is always present and questioned, rooted within the dialogue. This is evident in Kate Craig’s work, Delicate Issue, where she initiates and carries out a closely intimate relationship with the camera, treating it as witness and confidant, while philosophizing the physical limits of the medium itself, questioning its capabilites as a vent.

The show also featured performance driven works by Mona Hartoum and Andrew James Paterson, which thrive on the fusion of performance and video, "..never allowing the performances to lose the video or the video to dominate the performances. (Knights, 4) Dada and absurdist driven work is also ever present at the Western Video Front, producing the compiliation tape Canada Shadows.

ITEM 1985.113 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Delicate IssueKate Craig

Sax IslandHank Bull

David Kelln

CornucopiaGeneral Idea

J'aurais Dit Glenn GouldRobert Racine

Individual ReleaseTom Sherman

Teaching and Learning as Performance Arts Part IIRobert Filliou

Variation of Discord and DivisionMona Hartoum

Passports of LoveAndrew James Paterson

Come Fly with Sonny DayFraser Finlayson

BrujaMargaret Fabrizio

Inner Landscape- Insight ImageUlrike Rosenbach

TLCElizabeth Vander Zaag

BreathMargaret Dragu

Fear of BlueTom Dean

Paradise LostKim Tomczak

Mandala '82Ko Nakajima

The Canada Shadow Players

El NinoVaerkstedt Vaerst

Unbashed HeroicsRandy and Berenicci

You Can't Drive a Car and Watch Television at the Same TimeTom Sherman