Mark Lewis, Man

September 19th - October 20th, 2012

The films in Man articulate Lewis’s continuing aesthetic investigations of the contemporary city. The films also examine the history of film and its formal contributions to the depiction of everyday life.

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  • Black Mirror (film still), at The National Gallery of Cananda, 2011
  • Black Mirror (film still), at The National Gallery of Cananda, 2011
  • Man (film still), 2012
  • City Road May 04 (film still), 2012
  • City Road May 4 (film still), 2012

Man focuses on a tired homeless person and the momentum of pedestrian London. This dynamic – a tension between the stillness at the center of bustling activity – is a common feature of Lewis’s work. Lewis makes us witnesses to the variety of characters and vehicles that enter the film. Some people acknowledge the camera’s presence, while others carry on, seemingly oblivious to being captured on film. The film’s climax arrives when we are confronted by the detail of a man’s arm, which seems to indicate upset or anger with the camera’s depiction of the homeless man, who is lying in a public space. Moments like this rupture the camera’s apparent neutrality as well as the audience’s suspension of disbelief. By bringing into question whether his films are staged or simply captured, Lewis examines if there are any essential differences between these two modes of pictorial production.

Black Mirror follows the movement of a black mirror (produced by Paris-based designer Martin Szekely) as it travels through three galleries dedicated to Dutch landscape paintings in The National Gallery, London, U.K. Choreographed through the galleries, the black mirror momentarily ‘looks at and confronts’ specific paintings it finds interesting before coming to rest on an image that is, in many ways, its doppelganger. Here, the black mirror becomes a contemporary Claude Glass – an instrument 19th Century painters were encouraged to use to determine the potential success of their compositions. When held up to a picture, the glass reduces the entire image to its details.

Mark Lewis was born in Hamilton, Ontario and currently lives and works in London, U.K. Lewis attended Harrow College of Art in London and the Polytechnic of Central London, and began his career as a photographer before moving into film. He has had numerous solo shows in museums around the world such as BFI Southbank (London), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) and the Musee d’art Moderne (Luxembourg). In 2009, Lewis represented Canada in the 53rd Venice Biennale, curated by Barbara Fischer.