A Little Perspective: The Video Art of Brenna George curated by Val Klassen
A Little Perspective: The Video Art of Brenna George
Curated by Val Klassen
Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 7:00 PM
“The lighter something tastes, the more of it you can eat.” – Brenna George
Winnipeg-based Brenna George’s delightful and disarming video art invites us to look at ourselves in relation to the big questions of life. Innocent, inventive, and engaging, George’s work seems to flow from the deepest layers of the subconscious.
She is unselfconsciously, unaffectedly creative. Charming and quirky, her work nevertheless can engage serious issues. In Red Riding Hood, fears about the environment and the perverse nature of fear itself are explored. The pain and grieving after the miscarriage of a baby were the starting point for Winter. Sometimes unabashedly decorative, as in Allsorts, and Dustpan, George simply and innocently finds beauty and inspiration in the quotidian.
Often explicitly autobiographical, as in L. Bird, Sleep, and Set Forth Hopeful, her work always references the personal. George leaves herself vulnerable, so that we are unafraid to enter her special reality. Once there, we find it to be somehow familiar, and not as straightforward as it first seemed. Using a variety of techniques, from simple pencil drawings to sophisticated rotoscoping and computer effects, she shares small gems from her internal world.
– Val Klassen
From Uptown Magazine July 8, 2010
A gem of a screening
A Little Perspective examines the playful and precious works of Brenna George
A Little Perspective curator Val Klassen (a fixture of Winnipeg’s video art scene since the days of the Plug In Video Group) characterizes Brenna George’s videos as “small gems from her internal world.” Indeed, George’s videos sparkle like gems but steer clear of cloying preciousness. The violence of small-town gossip, prescriptive societal roles, depression, working for minimum wage, miscarriage and a poisonous world economy temper the sweetness of her animated sketches and candy-coloured palette.
Employing both simple and sophisticated techniques, she brings quarrelsome flowers, gossipy birds and fretful fairies to life, and a unique enchantment to discussions of society’s ills and her personal troubles. The retrospective screening of her works at Cinematheque on Thurs., July 15 at 7 p.m. is well-paced, encompassing various aspects of her 16-year practice — from serious and experimental to comical and narrative.
Seen together, the 10 works in A Little Perspective allow the viewer to trace George’s evolution as an artist. Early works address the individual in a seriously screwed up world; later works become increasingly personal and emotional. Taking joy in small things — a car ride through the prairie landscape, the formal play of colour and shape in liquorice All-sorts candy — is a tonic in newer works.
The program begins with a challenging piece, Deep Junior: Act a Little Crazy. Aptly named, this video is a little crazy! George repeatedly crushes a pencil into paper while repeating, “dot, dot, dot” with each stab. Deep Junior relates the repetitive binary calculations made by a chess-playing computer to a kind of frantic, mentally disturbed mark-making.
Dustpan explores the challenges and joys of domesticity. Stills of a turquoise dustpan on a red and orange linoleum floor flash by — a humorous, repulsive and beautiful diary of raising three small children. The dustpan usually bears a full load — discarded food, the backing from a sheet of stickers, a drawing of a dog lettered “I’m sorry.” One can imagine the events of the day that produced this refuse: the two year old flicks his Cheerios one by one onto the floor; spilled popcorn mingles with a Band-Aid peeled off by a girl anxious to inspect her scab. Others confound: how did a whole potato end up in the dustpan?
The intensely personal Set Forth Hopeful concludes the program. In it, George proposes art (she paints a fairy companion/alter ego) and homey comforts (she makes pancakes) as effective antidotes to the grim realities of her terrible apartment and minimum-wage job. Sweet little things are not escapist for George, but enable her to tackle the ugliness that she is all too aware of in the world.
A Little Perspective provides perspective on a too little examined artist and her playful and penetrating works.
– Sandee Moore
Deep Junior, Act A Little Crazy
Winnipeg to Saskatoon
The Language of Flowers
Red Riding Hood
Set Forth Hopeful