Next week, Toronto’s Reel Artists Film Festival brings the work of such brilliant creators as Wanda Koop, Pipilotti Rist, Sol LeWitt and Ai Weiwei to the big screen.
The festival opens February 23, premiering a doc that follows Wanda Koop, a painter of brilliant colour and light, on a freight trip up the St. Lawrence River. What a sublime way to kick things off.
The lineup also gives viewers a peek into the wildly entertaining life of Zurich artist Pipilotti Rist, with a 50-minute film, The Color of Your Socks, that follows her and her studio manager for an entire year while she prepares for a sound and video installation at the MoMA in New York.
Similarly, Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawings, directed by Edgar B. Howard and Tom Piper, chronicles the intensive preparation that went into installing a permanent exhibition of the famed conceptual artist’s work in 2008, a year after his death. More than 60 artists were hired to recreate over 100 wall pieces that required over a year to realize. Hand-drawn, scribbled or painted directly on to the walls at MASS MoCA in New Adams, Massachusetts, each work was based on LeWitt’s written instructions.
In a 15-minute short, controversial Chinese artist (and occasional architect) Ai Weiwei explains how and why he commissioned an entire Chinese village to handcraft 100-million porcelain sunflower seeds for an exhibit that’s on view at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall until May 2011. (A 100-kilogram pile of the seeds recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction for a reported $560,208.)
The five-day festival, which started out eight years ago as an under-the-radar local eventdrifting annually from one venue to the next) has always presented interesting documentaries – the rare kinds of films you just can’t find on TV or YouTube. It’s grown substantially since its start, but with 17 films, it’s not so big that the quality of its selection has been lost. Each of the docs is beautifully realized, shedding great insight into the contemporary visual art world. For the most part, these films have been made on indie budgets without large crews or equipment – a key ingredient, it seems, for getting famous artists to open up their private spaces and reveal their creative processes.
For a full list of screenings, visit Reel Artists Film Festival. The festival opens Feburary 22 and runs until Feburary 27, with screenings at the Bell TIFF Lightbox, 350 King St W.