Review: Linda Duvall at Gallery TPW.

March 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Linda Duvall

Linda Duvall

The Toss, Linda Duvall’s current video installation at Gallery TPW, illustrates the innate mixture of the mundane with the extraordinary, two elements that are present in almost all of our everyday interactions. The result is a filmic work that conveys the physically arduous task of learning how to fight through a theatrical and over the top gallery experience.

I had seriously high hopes for The Toss, which was described by the gallery as the documentation of Duvall’s “process in learning how to physically toss people.” My hopes were certainly met open entering, as the pitch-dark and already moody front passageway was made all the more bizarre by of the audible grunts, shrill notes and accompanying epic movie soundtrack. However, once I walked through the gate and began to watch the front-side view of the video project, my excitement did waver a little. Duvall’s process involves a camera crew’s record of her lessons in combat at dojos, boxing gyms and combat classes across Toronto and Saskatoon. These documented training sessions are then spliced without sound and presented to the viewer through categorical episodes that range from Roman numeral I-X. While Duvall’s back-story and influence behind the project are exciting (she was shoved around during a police takedown), I did not see the video’s paired-down clips that ranged from close-ups of hands and feet, to gestural swings and takedowns were necessarily cohesive or warranted the length of the video.

In any case, I was pleasantly surprised by the actual event of the toss, the second part of the piece located on the opposing side of the constructed screen. The culmination of Duvall’s extensive training and material process is brought together in this piece through 6 short vignettes – all of which include the artist successfully taking down each of her aggressors, all played by Duvall’s instructors whom the audience has already been introduced to. The film’s use of dramatic music, buildup and the multiple shots of Duvall’s punches and flips, stand in stark contrast to its counterpoint film. In this manner, while the buildup video wasn’t much of one, the actual “toss” itself, was edited together seamlessly and had some seriously fun moments.

The Toss runs at gallery TPW until March 3.

– Stella Melchiori

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