Vtape Video Play is a personal invitation to a series that features leading artists from different generations and cultural perspectives, who are among the most important artists working in video and digital imagery today. All of the titles represented have been closed-captioned for accessibility.

Vtape invites you to preview 8 programs addressing creative and critical practices about some of the most pressing conversations of our time.

All programs represented have been closed-captioned for accessibility. To purchase a program Vtape is offering educational institutions at a special discount of 20%. For more information please contact distribution@vtape.org


Program 1: Truth and Reconciliation

We are empowered, changed and healed by stories

1. Hope, Dana Claxton, 2007, 9:51 EN CC

The artist ponders the possibilities of reconciliation. Upon the first round of rebuilding, it works perfectly and then another try makes it more difficult.

2. Tree, Shelley Niro, 2006, 5:00 EN CC

Personifying Mother Earth, she walks through her domain. She observes her environment and what has happened to it. She weeps.

3. Dancing with Naango, Sharon Issac, 2018, 3:17 English/Ojibwe, CC

Dancing with Naango is a short film about my daughter’s journey as a Jingle Dress dancer. She takes the viewer through her journey of regaining her culture as she works on relearning her traditions.

4.The “Gift”, Terril Calder, 2011, 2:00 English, with English subtitles.

The “Gift” is an exploration of betrayal and deception wrapped in a cozy blanket infested with the small pox disease.

5.  THIRST, Gail Maurice, 2007, 14:15 English, CC

A probing documentary into the highly problematic and deteriorating water delivery systems servicing Northern Ontario First Nations communities.

Program 2: The Trouble With Normal (troubling identities)

Why are you asking about sexual identities and visible minorities if its not required?

1. My Heart the Rockstar, Niki Forrest, 2001, 2:00 EN, CC

I turned six in 1970. The beginning of a new era. I was just starting to understand the hugeness of gender. Everything seemed to be about that. It felt really heavy.

2. Gender Lace and Glass, David Findlay, 1992, 3:00 EN, CC

The protagonist begins the process of undoing / rewriting a self-image that doesn’t fit.

3. Labeeb, Abdi Osman, 2012, 4:23, sound, CC.

Labeeb is an intimate portrait of Sumaya, a Somali trans-woman. One video documents aspects of her daily life, while the other portrays Sumaya performing a Somali ritual usually reserved for women.

4. PASSING FOR WHITE; PASSING FOR BLACK in São Paulo, Emelie Changhur, 2007, 3:04, sound, CC

The expression of a first-generation Canadian, who passes for black in her home country, finds herself passing for white in Brazil.

5. SuperNova, Rah, 2019, 19:08 English/Pahlavi, Open caption

“SuperNova is a game show parody that mimics the tropes of American Idol reality tv shows and consists of seven characters in which Rah performs.

Program 3: Radical / Accessible

“You’re not choosing to stare at me. I’m making the decision to let you see me. I’m making you see me.” – Sean Lee, Body Wrap

1. Inclinations, Danielle Peers + Alice Sheppard, 2019, 5:40 EN, CC

INCLINATIONS began as a moment of ‘crip’ play. Alice Sheppard and Danielle Peers find themselves literally somersaulting in their wheelchairs on a 90-foot ramp on “social street”: the main entrance of the Kinesiology building at the University of Alberta.

2.  Red Buffalo Skydive, Jude Norris, 2000 3:30, EN, CC

Red Buffalo Skydive is a 3-minute video featuring a repeating 6-second clip of an animated running buffalo combined with dialogue of the artist repeating a story told to her by a paraplegic man who picked her up hitchhiking.

3.  Just Like You Do, Alexandra Hickox, 2014, 1:35 ASL, EN, CC

As Deaf people we are constantly asked to explain, and through having to explain ourselves, to convince ourselves and others of our important role in society. I want to present and capture the beauty of sign language and show how powerful a tool for communication it is.

4. Body Wrap, Sean Lee, 2014, 17:05 EN text, AD

“Body Wrap” emerged through my desire to live up to my hypervisibility. As a queer, visibly disabled, person of colour, the choice to be invisible was never an option. Being invisible was always an unknowable elsewhere. And in performance art, which has a history of using the body as an art-tool, my body always seemed to include an unintentional underlay of provocation.

5. Sight, Thirza Cuthand, 2012 3:30 EN, CC

Paralleling the experience of Blindness with Mental Illness, Cuthand deftly elucidates that any of us could lose any of our abilities at any time.

Program 4: Black Focus

Exploring an endarkened feminist approach through personal, experimental, performative and documentary videos. Five artists dismantle Western notions of origin and Blackness.

1. forgive me for speaking in my own tongue – 4 mins and 12 secs before entering melancholy., Erika DeFreitas, 2016, 04:12, EN CC

In forgive me for speaking in my own tongue (4 minutes and 12 seconds before entering melancholy), the artist is engaged in the act of meditating on her breathing; focusing on each inhale and exhale.

2. From Billie…To Me…And Back Again, Dana C. Inkster, 2002, 04:20, EN CC

This experimental animation depicts how a late night radio dedication leads to nocturnal reverie of an unrequited love.

3. Womanism is a Form of Feminism Focused Especially on the Conditions and Concerns of Black Women, Madelyne Beckles, 2016, 03:48, EN CC

Infomercial aesthetics sell hard theory, a reflection on feminist cannons and consumption.

4. Karina Griffiths, Repair, 2017, 5:47, EN CC

I looked at my work through the gaze of endarkened perspectives and found them in Repair, a film about my grandfather’s house in Georgetown and the rainforest in Guyana.

5. Coming To Voice, Anthony A. Browne and Glace W. Lawrence, 1999, 51:00, EN CC
Coming To Voice is a dynamic, visually stylistic documentary exploring the emergence of Black film and video makers in Canada.

Program 5: Palestine in Motion

These five video works turn our view to a history of displacement, colonization and the deepening humanitarian crisis.

1. Untitled: Part 3b, (as if) beauty never ends…, Jayce Salloum, 2004 11:22, English, Arabic, French CC

A more ambient work of many things, including orchards blooming and plants growing, super-imposed over raw footage from post massacre filmings of the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. Cloud footage, Hubbell space imagery, the visible body crosscuts and abstract shots of slow motion water, add to this reflection of the past, its present context and forbearance.

2.  A Hot Sandfilled Wind, b.h. Yael, 2006, 13:00 English, Hebrew, Arabic, CC

Part 3 of the Palestine Trilogy: documentations in history, land & hope. A Hot Sandfilled Wind expresses the despair and hope of contemporary politics in Israel/Palestine. This video, based on a poem by Nadia Habib, visually acknowledges, in the context of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, that Israelis and Palestinians live and work, and suffer loss, side by side; and that mutual recognition is the only basis for hope.          

3. Target, Rehab Nazzal, 2012, Silent    

Shot in Al-Kabri, a destroyed Palestinian village where only a cemetery remains beneath an Israeli park that memorializes the destruction of a series of villages in the  North of Palestine. The disorienting experience of being at the site inspired the  fragmented editing. The title is taken from a line by Karl Marx in “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.”

4. Jehad in Motion, Richard Fung, 2007, 25:47 

Jehad Aliweiwi is a Palestinian Canadian who lives in Toronto but regularly returns to visit his family in Hebron. Rendered on two screens, Jehad in Motion is a double portrait both of the man and of the two cities he calls home. In Hebron, Jehad takes us to the old market where Jewish settlers have colonized the upper stories forcing Palestinians to build a horizontal fence to protect themselves. In Toronto, we walk around Thorncliffe Park where he works providing services in one of the city’s key neighbourhoods for newly arrived immigrants.

5. Bodies in Motion, Rehab Nazal, 2017, 3:00 silent 

Bodies in Motion emerged from my experience of the Palestinian Intifada (2015-2016). The work consists of hundreds of images of individual protesters, digitally converted into silhouettes on a unifying white background. The work sets in motion the still images through animated sequences of stone slinging and its distinct visual language. Every few seconds, a black and white photograph punctuates the screen, connecting the real with the symbolic, the past with the present and the local with the universal.

Program 6: Animation

This program highlights intersectional perspectives that use graphic narratives to share stories.

1. Neo-Neon, Hiba Ali, 2013, 3:49 English text

This video used the device of neon, as a line, to demarcate boundaries, whether social, political, economic or geographic. Visually their is a neon line present that grows into various symbols while a poetic text about “borders” glides in and out of the frame.

2. The Nicest Waterfall, Ghaku Okazaki, Maya Ben David, 2015, 2:10 EN CC

The Nicest Waterfall is a collaborative piece with Japanese artist Ghaku Okazaki. Ben David explores Okazaki’s paintings and prints through video manipulation and animation.

3. Repercussions, Terril Calder, 2013, 3:35, audio CC

Repercussions is a portal that examines the link aboriginal people have to the lands history and resonates into a future that is strengthened by this acknowledgement.

4. No Lies, b.h. Yael, 2017, 1:00 English text

A young girl considers the complex relationships and lessons of growing up in a polygamous household. 5. Blossom 1, Jesse Jordan, 2018, 3:52 audio CC Blossom is an animated diary that I have hand-drawn over the past 4 years. In this animation, I express my emotions with relevance to my body through exploring the varying ways I can metamorphosis and contort a stagnant form. Every contortion that I draw represents a particular feeling and experience that I’ve had.

5. Blossom 1, Jesse Jordan, 2018, 3:52 audio CC

Blossom is an animated diary that I have hand drawn over the past 4 years. In this animation, I express my emotions with relevance to my body through exploring the varying ways I can metamorphosis and contort a stagnant form. Every contortion that I draw represents a particular feeling and experience that I’ve had.


Program 7: Fable for Tomorrow: A Survey of Works by Wendy Coburn, video selections

Coburn’s expansive body of work poses a series of questions related to freedom of assembly, the critical role of protest and tactics used to undermine social justice organizing and positive social change.

1. Wendy Coburn, Slut Nation: Anatomy of a protest, 2014, 36:29

Slut Nation: Anatomy of a Protest, revisits the world’s first Slutwalk protest.

2. Wendy Coburn, My Heart Divine 2001, 04:12

My Heart Divine was produced as a response to Nikki Forest and Nelson Henrick’s invitation to make a one-to-two minute video, which describes ‘your heart as a profession’.

3. Wendy Coburn, Die Trauernde, 2003, 02:30

In 1957 American psychologist Harry Harlow began developing theories on the “Nature of Love”. He removed baby monkeys from their mothers, to gain insight into the workings touch has on “normal” development.

Program 8: Fractured Horizons curated by Yaniya Lee

Yaniya Lee (born in Montreal, QC; lives in Toronto, ON) is interested in community organizing and collective practice. As a writer and editor, she uses interdisciplinary research to question critical-reading practices and reconsider Canadian art histories.

1. Deanna Bowen, sum of the parts: what can be named, 2010 19:00

Yaniya Lee says about Deanna Bowen’s work:

“Black life is deeply entwined with the archive, and often the work of black history is one of research into dispersed documents and oral histories – the personal and the official providing a counter-narrative to those stories that tenaciously refuse our existence. Deanna Bowen’s practice flourishes from these material points of entry. 

sum of the parts: what can be named (2010) is slow and careful. Over nearly 20 minutes, Bowen reads aloud her family history. A story of the African diaspora’s meandering, sinuous growth is told in an accounting of her family through birth and marriage and rumour and residence and death. I love this video for how peaceful it makes me feel, and also how connected to our divergent diasporic ancestries.”

2. Cheryl Dunye, Janine, 1990 10:00

Yaniya Lee says about Cheryl Dunye’s work:

“Cheryl Dunye’s video Janine (1990) brings me right back to high school. I had this exact friend; I remember this complicated intimacy. These women may grow up to be Beckys or Amys, but they’ll all have experienced the messy wilderness of teenage years – rife with hormones, and one of the most intense periods of learning and growth in our lifetime. What I learned from these early intimacies is the ability to recognize those who are fundamentally unable to see me or love me. But that understanding has taken years, and the interim has been marked by the contradiction, pain and sadness that underlies Dunye’s candid disclosure.”

3. Thirza Cuthand, Thirza Cuthand is an Indian Within the Meaning of the Indian Act, 2017 8:56

Yaniya Lee says about Thirza Cuthand’s work:

“The first time I saw Thirza Cuthand perform they undressed while a film they made about resource extraction and colonization played on the gallery wall behind them. With excruciating slowness they stood there and slowly poured out a thick, dark substance (that totally looked like crude oil but which I think was actually molasses) all over their body. The thing is, as profound as the performance was, it was also funny – I am always appreciative of some artists’ ability to openly address the ritual terror of empire alongside humour and common sense.

“Thirza Cuthand is an Indian Within the Meaning of the Indian Act is about racism and colonialism and Cuthand’s Plains Cree family. Shots of personal documents, family photos and re-enactments of performance and video work by Ana Mendieta—another artist who used their body to powerful effect – play to a flat, first-person narrative voiceover.”

4. Ariella tai, she’s not gonna get more dead, 2018 6:20

Yaniya Lee says about ariella tai’s work:

“Have you ever cried so much and so hard and for so long that you forgot what you were crying about, and that when the tears stop coming you feel lifted and lighter and like you’ve gently fallen into a dull, numb peace? Sometimes I wonder if this is the opposite of fear.

“The video captures the way Black women are perceived. We’re thought of as exotic, as sexual, as predatory – and it’s all embodied in these black femme vampires. I get shivers when I watch the video’s digital VHS slurs and faded RGB bleed. A glitched-out Aaliyah reaches into a man’s chest and pulls out his heart. I’m queasy and mesmerized.

“The truth is, what I feel most deeply living in white supremacy is a mundane fear of recrimination for a wrong I didn’t know I was doing. Some call that living-while-Black. I’m still figuring it out. For now, the ASMR effect of fear and liberation I feel when I watch tai’s work is incredibly visceral, and I love it.”

5. Hannah Black, My Bodies, 2014 3:30

Yaniya Lee says about Hannah Black’s work:

“Hannah Black describes the body as ‘a register of more or less obscure credits and debts, worn as alterations on the surface, as turbulence in the organs, weighted in bone.’ The charade of identity politics requires that our bodies predetermine a fundamental self. This reliance on a simple, surface reading of the body is why identity politics is so flawed.

“I was born in my sack of skin and bones, but often feel my self to be apart from it, as a stranger might. In the context of this program, it was important to me to include Black’s completely sideways approach to the body. She introduces us to the faces of structural power and the sweet voice of blackness’s body, then plunges us into an interstitial space of rebirth that could be either before or after death, before or after embodiment. The form of this short video is against representation, and for this reason it signals a new space forged outside the body-as-identity.”

6. Buseje Bailey, Blood, 1992 6:00

Yaniya Lee says about Buseje Bailey’s work:

“‘I want to be seen, and constructed as a whole person, not just as what I do in bed, or with my genitalia, or the colour of my skin,’ Buseje Bailey wrote in an essay published the year after she made Blood. In response to demands that she make specific aspects of herself legible in her work, she declares that the fact of her existence is enough: ‘AND FURTHERMORE, I AM.’ I read this as the video’s mood. The slowness of the pace sets in motion a swell of expectation—a sense of something building. But it never peaks. We’re left with a long, drawn-out gesture that refuses revelation.”

7.  Donna James, Maigre Dog,1990 7:50

“There’s a certain kind of nostalgia that scares me because it feels dangerous, but in the texture of the voices in Maigre Dog, sharing tried and true bits of wisdom, I find myself longing for the intimacy of a warm kitchen surrounded by ancient aunties.

“As the final presentation in the program, Donna James’s video brings together many elements of the previous films. Here are intimacy and matrilineal bonds, testimonials and warnings, recomposed scenes and unclear images, and through it all an attention to informal histories and alternative ways of knowing.”

8. Richelle Fear Hat, In Her Care, 2017 10:00

Yaniya Lee says about Richelle Bear Hat’s work:

“It is unremarkable to sit down in the sunlight, as I do every morning, and assess the sprawl of my monstera; or to call my sister, on any given day, for an emergency five-minute vent sesh. The small details that fill up the space between the more eventful moments of life are precious.

“The nearly-still pastoral landscapes and descriptions of matrilineal care in Richelle Bear Hat’s In Her Care evoke a similarly pleasant torpor. The mood is languid and full of love.”

To view or rent any programs contact distrubtion@vtape.org

Image Credit: The Nicest Waterfall, Ghaku Okazaki, Maya Ben David, 2015


Vtape acknowledges the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council for Vtape Video Play