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Steve Topping: Reading Canada Backwards


15 November 2019 - 15 December 2019


15 November 2019
15 December 2019

Works by

Steve Topping

Curated by

Emily Falvey

Steve Topping: Reading Canada Backwards

About this exhibition

To make this innovative work of experimental cinema, artist Steve Topping hopped freight trains from Vancouver to Halifax. For the length of his journey—4000 miles (6437 km)—he never looked through the camera viewfinder, instead keeping his shots level with the eastern horizon. Using the spacing of telephone pole as a guide, at forty-eight-kilometer intervals he shot ninety single frames of film using a Super-8 camera. As the rails are still marked out by mile markers, the film represents ninety frames of film for every thirty miles or three frames per mile. The resultant 12,000 frames of film present a jittery time-lapse in which communication and transportation technologies appear to tear through the natural landscape. As such, it represents an elegant, formal illustration of the concept of “space-time compression”—the set of economic and other processes that lead to a phenomenon sometimes called “the shrinking world.” An homage to Canadian structural film and video of the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a clever critique of capitalism and colonialism, Reading Canada Backwards subtly folds the romance of the Intercolonial Railway back onto questions of entitlement, landownership, and the right to freedom of movement.

This special presentation of Reading Canada Backwards hasbeen organized as part of the 150th anniversary celebrations for the Intercolonial Railway, which arrived in Sackville on 30 November 1869.

Visiting Artist Talk with Steve Topping