Peter Lynch: Buffalo Days @ TIFF
Peter Lynch’s installation BUFFALO DAYS premieres at TIFF 2011’s FUTURE PROJECTIONS at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.
Toronto August 26, 2011 The Future Projections programme features moving-image artworks, opening at the Thorsell Spirit House, Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, on September 8, 2011. Artists include Peter Lynch, Nicholas and Sheila Pye, James Franco and Gus Van Sant, Mr. Brainwash, David Rokeby, Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky, Gregory Crewdson, Ben Rivers, Duane Hopkins, David Lamelas, and Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation.
Buffalo Days is a multichannel video installation by Peter Lynch, creator of such films as Arrowhead, Project Grizzly, The Herd, Cyberman, and A Whale of a Tale.
Peter Lynch: Buffalo Days (2011) — World Premiere From one of Canada’s most celebrated filmmakers, Buffalo Days examines the devastating impact of Europeans on native cultures. In place of an inherently organic system, Europeans substituted one of complete control, driving out or eliminating wildlife—especially buffalo—and people unable to conform. The projections perform different functions: one reflects the actual physical environment; another, remnants and ghosts of the Blackfoot people’s way of life. The haunting quality of the imagery is buttressed by a soundscape comprised of natural sounds and traditional Blackfoot drumming. The piece is a compelling rumination on several of Lynch’s favourite themes, among them how we interact or fail to interact with our environment.
—Steve Gravestock. Associate Director, Canadian Programing, TIFF
The wild buffalo was once the single biggest animal species on earth. They had a far-reaching impact on nature and civilization in North America. They inhabited the land in incredible numbers on the Great Plains, providing inexhaustible resources and independence for the first aboriginal nations. That is, until white invaders exterminated these herds and their utility, wiping out the First Nations’ central way of life. In many cases, the buffalo’s elimination was implemented specifically to diminish the food source of the land’s indigenous peoples. Their way of life was then largely supplanted by the cattle livestock industry and the presence of white populations. Buffalo Days speaks of the absence of the buffalo in their wild state. This piece is haunted by the magnitude of this loss and the imposition of one culture onto another, and onto nature. The grasslands became another type of landscape and an entire ecosystem—one that included the buffalo and once supported a particular way of life—was virtually wiped out.
The elements for this work form a poetic meditation and elegy based on this narrative. It features cattle on land where the buffalo once roamed. It features images of an enigmatic, totemic human figure with a buffalo skull covering his face, a savanna tall grass blowing in the wind that was once the natural habitat of the buffalo. Below, on the floor, the viewer will glimpse the remains of buffalo in the way of scattered bones, set against the thundering sound of a huge herd, while the rhythmic sound of Blackfoot drumming swirls around the room. The location of the Royal Ontario Museum is ideal as it provides an intersection of natural history, Canadian social history and environmentalism, all features inherent in this project.
The idea for the piece grew out of Lynch’s My National Parks short film “Paahtomahsikimii—The Place Where Lakes Go Into The Mountain.” “Paahtomahsikimii” poses a complex, radical portrait of a national park, teasing at the boundaries of art and cinema. It subverts the conventional idea of the national park and its position within our national consciousness.
Buffalo Days is presented in collaboration with TIFF and the Royal Ontario Museum’s Institute for Contemporary Culture. Produced with the support of the National Parks Project. Thorsell Spirit House, 100 Queen’s Park. Exhibition runs September 8 to 18.
Special thanks to: Max Dean, Michelle Gay, Noah Cowan, Steve Gravestock, Laurel MacMillian, Francisco Alvarez
Cinematographer: Steve Cosens Additional Photography: Rick O’Brien Editor: Caroline Christie Additional Assistance: Andres Landau Sound design: Elma Bello and Daniel Pellerin, Theatre D
See images at http://tiff.net/filmsandschedules/tiff/2011/buffalodays
FUTURE PROJECTIONS is made possible through the generous support of the Hal Jackman Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council.
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