Friday, June 28, 2013
The End (Seven Samurai)
My window installation at Gallery 1313 opened last night. Thanks to director Phil Anderson for giving me access to the space (for my own work as well as for the windows I'll be programming for the next few months), and special thanks to Noa Bronstein for writing the following short essay to accompany the installation.
The End (Seven Samurai)
Rice, black and white sesame seeds, adhesive
A menacing term, the end is the semantic comrade of termination and expiration. The end, however, is also but a provocation to look to other beginnings. In her work The End (Seven Samurai), Tara Bursey uses the matter of beginning – seed, bean and grain – and stages it as an interloper into the rubric of finality. The End (Seven Samurai) is part of a larger series exhibited at the Gladstone Hotel in 2012 for the exhibition //THE ANNUAL//, in which Bursey has recreated the end credit from four black and white Hollywood films using various edible materials. The End performs Bursey’s concern with the insecurity of food production in the wake of mass environmental shifts and devastations. For this iteration, the end title of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954), in which bandits pillage a rural, farming village, is faithfully realized.
The End points to a liminality of time and space. Re-purposing easily accessible food stocks, at least in the context in which the works are created, through meticulous processes, challenges our relationship to production and consumption. The labour of harvesting these staples, whether by hand or machine, is recast through the labour of the artist and consumed only metaphysically, rendering field and fork as partial actors. The End further points to a cultural lament for the passage of time and the need to compartmentalize the contemporary and the historic, the past and the present. Inspired by what Bursey has called the illusionary space of film, the titles evoke a lost age of and nostalgia for the belle epoque of cinema and great moments of chimera, echoing that this nostalgia might soon be turned towards our ecologies. Returning for a moment to Kurosawa’s bandits, these antagonists are not merely a metaphor for food insecurity. The bandits are perhaps a reminder of Roland Barthes’ pronouncement that “myth is always a language-robbery.”1 The appropriation of The End is a kind of language-robbery, through which we can mythologize cinema, nature and time.
The end credit can be seen as a signifier for the moment of fertilization, whereby the filmic narrative is transferred from auteur to the subconscious of the viewer. Seeds are a codex for living matter, as films are a codex for narrative, giving form to ideation. The matter of seed is both beginning and end, in the same way that the end credit of a film is only the beginning of our relationship to it.
Director of Exhibitions & Cultural Promotions
1 Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1972), 131.