October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last weekend, DREAMERS RENEGADES VISIONARIES: The Glenn Gould Variations festival was held in honour of Glenn Gould, a revolutionary and renowned twentieth century pianist particularly known for his interpretations of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Performances, installations and an exhibition were put on to celebrate Gould’s life and work. One of the artists who paid tribute to the Canadian pianist is Robert Wilson, using a series of video portraits specially designed for UTAC’s galleries to create an exhibition called Robert Wilson Gould Variations: A series of Video Portraits in celebration of Glenn Gould. Reportedly recreating a moment he experienced while dining to the sounds of Gould and croaking frogs, Wilson meticulously combines his South American Horned Frog Video Portraits with nature recordings and Gould’s arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Eleven HD screens are mounted on the walls of the gallery, each displaying a brilliantly coloured frog that boldly stares back at the viewer.

Wilson masterfully creates an atmosphere that intrigues, captivates and stimulates. The rooms of the gallery are lit only by the vivid colours of the screens and the viewer is confronted with the gaze of a frog at every turn – a truly surreal experience. The frogs, each with a name, gender and colour scheme, seem to have individual personalities and places within the court of frogs ruled by Lord Suckfist (2012) who dominates the central space. Their stares compel the audience to engage with every one of them.

The genius behind Wilson’s Gould Variations lies in how the artist has woven together such a multiplicity of details in order to manipulate the viewer’s reaction, but in a way that is still open to each individual’s imagination. The images and music work together to transform the space: a feeling of serenity can be quickly succeeded by a disturbing loneliness. Wilson encourages the visitors to develop their own interpretations and provides them with a contemplative space in which to do so. This exhibit is truly an experience for the mind and senses.

Robert Wilson Gould Variations: A series of Video Portraits in celebration of Glenn Gould runs until October 6, 2012 at UTAC.

Olivia Tang

Below: Robert Wilson, Mr. Speedball, South American Horned Frog Video Portrait, 2012, video still. Courtesy of the artist.

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