Once Near Water: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive (1. narrated version + 3. narration with photomural)

Vera Frenkel

2008, 15:25 minutes, colour, English


This work is available in three formats:
1. Single channel narrated video
2. Version with live music performance in Amsterdam (sub-titled Dutch, English).
3. Single channel narrated video and photomural installation (has also included a projection of Poem City).

Once Near Water: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive
is a work about a city cut off from its lake and in trouble, where scaffolding serves as metaphor for both aspiration and loss.

Following a chance encounter, Vera Frenkel has drawn together documentary and fictional elements to create a work about a stranger she barely knew but still finds compelling – a collector of scaffolding images -- fusing praise and lament into a video ballad for a changing city. The narrative unfolds in an interplay of two voices; a letter from one woman, being read by the other.

Once Near Water was commissioned jointly by Continuum Contemporary Music and The Images Festival of Film, Video and New Media, and co-produced by Jennifer Waring and Scott Miller Berry for the international multidisciplinary SHIFT Festival (Amsterdam, November 18-22, 2008).

The completed work, in collaboration with composer/percussionist Rick Sacks, was premièred on November 21st, 2008, at the Muziekgebouw, the magnificent concert hall for contemporary music situated on the IJ River in Amsterdam, and will have its 2009 Images Festival debut at the Isabel Bader Theatre, Toronto April 2, 2009.

“Aside from the allegorical power of scaffolding, ” says Frenkel, “it seemed fitting and a bit mischievous to make a work about a city divided from its lake, where new music is relegated to temporary church-basement venues, as a counterpoint to Amsterdam’s symbiotic relation to water and respect for contemporary music.”

The creation/destruction cycle that scaffolding suggests will also inform phase II of
Once Near Water: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive. Structured in collaboration with Rick Sacks, the final version will be almost silent, and subtitled in Dutch, with live improvisation by the Continuum musicians replacing spoken narration.

“I’m especially pleased to be installing an early version of this work at the Akau Inc. Project Space,” says Frenkel,”The West Queen West neighbourhood we share is currently under threat due to what is blithely referred to as ‘development’. Living and working in a district under siege has created the context for this work.” (Sept. 19 – Nov. 22, 2008)

Rental and Sales

Single Screening Rental


Educational Purchase DVD (Bluray +$15)


5 Year Educational Streaming License, Digital File with DVD Circulation Copy


Gallery Exhibition and Installation, complete Media Request form for quote

Institutional Archival Acquisition, complete Media Request form for quote

Curators and programmers, please contact to receive a login and password to preview Vtape titles online.

Screening and exhibition rentals and archival acquisitions include public performance rights; educational purchases or licenses include rights for classroom screenings and library circulation. When placing an order the customer agrees to our general online terms and conditions. Payment (or a purchase order number) and a signed licensing agreement must be received before media can be shipped to the client.