WNDX: Winnipeg’s Festival of Film & Video Art
Thursday September 30 – Sunday October 3, 2010

    • Curated by Cecilia Araneda
    • Introduced by Barbara Sternberg

Barbara Sternberg hails from the Maritimes where she began using cinema as a philosophical tool. Her interests in memory and repetition seemed a natural fit for a medium whose material is time. Working alone, and using small, hand-held cameras, Sternberg uses the possibilities of stretching and compressing events, or presenting them in overlapping layers like a rush of memories, in order to pose questions about the way we have come to describe ourselves. – Mike Hoolboom

The work of Barbara Sternberg reflects a process of seeing life and the intrinsic quality of the light and darkness within it. Through her films and videos, Sternberg observes small moments that form the filling of existence: the movement of earth, air, water and wind; reflection and shadow; and the ordinary routines and rituals of daily life. It is within the observation of small moments that Sternberg ekes out the larger questions about life’s very essence, and yet it is not a comforting sensation that Sternberg leaves us with. “The world is not ours to hold onto,” she says. The world Sternberg observes within her films is gone just as quickly as it comes before us – fragments of the familiar, but to which we are unable to connect; memories reveal evanescent moments that have past and which cannot be recovered.

Sternberg’s work is deeply and richly layered, with an expert sense of the media used in its creation, consciously acknowledging the connection between the vanishing nature of life and the always-moving images that she has used to capture it. As an artist, Sternberg is most well-known for her strong commitment to film and her exceptional technical mastery of it; she has described film as the “greatest medium,” with “inexhaustible possibilities.”

And yet, she has an equally deep body of work in video. Though her artistic exploration with the two mediums is rooted in the same essential questions, Sternberg interestingly allows herself a slower-paced observation of the world with her videos than she does with her films, and in doing so creates the contrast of life that can be more deeply touched and observed, and perhaps more deeply lost.

Program 1: Films
Friday, Oct 1 @ 7:00 pm

Awake – 3 mins, S8 mm on video, 2000 A bedroom (and life) viewed from the horizontal, while wondering whether to join in the race or wake up to the illusion. The soundtrack quotes from Gertrude Stein’s Making of Americans on disillusionment.

After Nature – 11 mins, 16 mm, 2008 After Nature, after the Fall, after all – where do we go from here? Digital imagery and optically printed superimpositions combine in a cascading plunge to no(w)here – new beginnings or more of the same?

Transitions – 10 mins, 16 mm, 1982 “Transitions” is a film of inner life and speaks of time, reality, power. It depicts the disquieting sensations of being in-between-between falling asleep and being awake, between here and there, between being and non-being.

Like a Dream that Vanishes – 41 mins, 16 mm, 1999 “Like a Dream That Vanishes” continues Sternberg’s in film both thematically and formally: the ephemerality of life echoed in the temporal nature of film, the stuff of life in the emulsion, and the energy, life-force in rhythmic light pulses.

Program 2: Videos
Saturday, Oct 2 @ 5:00 pm

Dark – 30 mins, Beta SP, 2005 This video arose from considerations of darkness; from looking at, for instance, Whistler’s “Nocturne” paintings and being attracted to Wanda Koop’s “Paintings for Dimly Lit Rooms”; from wanting to see how video (compared with film) handled dark; and finally from the contradiction of darkness as both friend and foe, end and source.

Sunsets – 40 mins, Beta SP, 2002 Nine sunsets were recorded on nine successive evenings. The words of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss are heard as he attempts to describe in precise detail his viewing a sunset; “If I could find a language in which to perpetuate those appearances, at once so unstable and so resistant to description…”


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