On The Flicker
Toronto, Canada, Self-published, 2017
42 x 590 cm.
Edition of 240
Tony Conrad died a year and a week ago, of prostate cancer, at age 76. One of his best known works, The Flicker, celebrated it's fiftieth anniversary that year. Produced with the help of Jonas Mekas, the 30-minute film took months to design and a few days to shoot. Apart from three title cards, The Flicker consists of only two frames. The first title is a warning that the producer, distributor, and exhibitors waive all liability for physical or mental injury:
"Since this film may induce epileptic seizures or produce mild symptoms of shock treatment in certain persons, you are cautioned to remain in the theatre only at your own risk. A physician should be in attendance."
Then "Tony Conrad Presents," and "The Flicker". At this point the screen goes white and flickers with a black frame, producing a stroboscopic effect that induced headaches and vomiting from some viewers. It is widely celebrated as a masterpiece of early structuralist filmmaking.
On The Flicker is Aryen Hoekstra's fictional account of attending a screening of the film. It exists as a free takeaway poster which forms the basis of his exhibition The Flicker, which opens tonight at YYZ Artist’s Outlet in Toronto. The text, written as part of a Banff writers residency, is at the centre of the exhibition, which also includes a suite of 24 paintings produced in collaboration with his partner Jennifer Carvalho, and a series of "objects and gestures" within the gallery intended as speculative sites against which the text might be considered.
"I’d arrived in Banff with the intention of writing a longer essay on Tony Conrad’s The Flicker (1965-66), anticipating that I’d use that film as a prompt from which to enter an extended discussion on light and dark, image and interval, and projection and speculation; a way to tease out themes already bubbling under and at the surface of my practice. The text had other ideas about what it should be and instead transformed itself into a short fiction set at a screening of Conrad’s film."
The exhibition opened Wednesday, with a reception tonight from 5 to 8 pm. Hoekstra will present a reading before a 16mm screening of Conrad's The Flicker at CineCycle (129 Spadina Ave) at 5:00pm tomorrow, Saturday April 15th.
For more information, visit the YYZ site here and the artist's website, here.