Recent Video Work by Jean-Paul Kelly



Friday, February 21st at 7:00 pm, $7-10

Jean-Paul Kelly’s works are simultaneously critical and sensory, built in layers of appropriated/recreated documentary sources. Kelly challenges traditional modes of representation, and how we perceive the world – physically, intellectually, and emotionally – is often at stake in his work. Even in his most grounded examinations of economic difficulty, human tragedy, and environmental disaster, Kelly embeds abstract elements – providing not only an emotionally rich tonal palette but also a much-needed fresh critical frame on the nature of documentary representation.

Program Details:
A Minimal Difference (2012. Duration: 5:10)
A Minimal Difference is shot using a multi-plane camera setup and features receding cell paintings referenced from widely circulated press images (barricades from political protests in Bangkok, bodies piled after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, furniture from an eviction in Cleveland, destruction in Gaza) and more metaphoric pictures (a logjam, clouds or smoke). Each tableau is separated into visual planes that, when filmed with movement, mimic the perception of optical distance. (JPK)

“Within and against these cartoon-like settings, four figures recur: a blue square (or cube), a yellow triangle (or pyramid), a green circle (or sphere), and a red rectangle (or rectangular solid). They show up against a neutral gray background (Suprematist painting, basically), accompanied by a synthesizer note. But they also hijack the scenes of “realist” concern (poverty, war, violence) by asserting themselves – their flatness, their geometrical universality – over the “local” scenes. Kelly is not leveling tired charges against high modernism and its evacuation of History. Rather, ‘A Minimal Difference’ introduces abstraction, as typically understood, into the realm of social representation, which always entails its own, less obvious substitutions.” – Michael Sicinski

Movement in Squares, (2013. Duration: 12:43)
Movement in Squares is a two-channel video comprised of three documentary sources: video appropriated from a Florida-based foreclosure broker who documents the condition of bank-owned properties at the time of their repossession; studio recordings that document retrospective exhibition catalogues of painter Bridget Riley; voice-over narration from filmmaker David Thompson’s 1979 profile of Riley’s work for the Arts Council of Great Britain. (JPK)

“In conversation on the screen, these elements put forth questions about representation, ethics and perception in how we look at images.” – Pablo de Ocampo, 2013 Flaherty Seminar Catalogue

Service of the goods, (2013. Duration: 29:10)
Service of the goods is comprised of selected scenes from American filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s seminal documentaries on state-run, tax-funded institutions, including Titicut Follies (1967), High School (1968), Law and Order (1969), Hospital (1970), Basic Training (1971), Juvenile Court (1973) and Welfare (1975). While creating shot-by-shot reproductions of each chosen scene, including accompanying subtitled dialogue, Wiseman’s representational strategy–his overall production and editing process–is, itself, evoked as an institution subject to the same means observation and expression. (JPK)

“In looking out on one of the great masters of documentary cinema and his body of work which set out to examine the failure of institutions, Kelly simultaneously re-engages a critique about the social safety nets in our society today and questioning the efficacy of documentary representation.” – Pablo de Ocampo, 2013 Flaherty Seminar Catalogue

“This film is not only a bang-on piece of filmic analysis; it also poses fundamental questions about the representation of social institutions, and those stuck inside of them.” – Michael Sicinski, Keyframe Magazine, “The Best of the Rest: 2013’s most inexplicably slept-on films.”

Figure-ground, (2013. Duration: 4:46)
Figure-ground features hand-painted cels filmed in receding distance with a multi-plane camera. Each scene is derived from photographs published online and depicting the aftermath of a death associated–tangentially or directly–with the 2008 global financial crisis: the gruesome drug-debt murder of a child in an economically depressed region; the suicide of Bernie Madoff’s son; an untreated, mentally distressed Iraq-war veteran freezes to death in a mountain stream after his manhunt for murder; the murder of Treyvon Martin; the cyanide suicide of a former Wall Street trader in court. The body of each individual is initially excised from the scene and later replaced by abstractions in regular form–a coloured square and an audio tone. (JPK)

Jean-Paul Kelly (Canadian, b. 1977) is a Toronto-based artist. He creates videos, drawings and photographs that are often displayed together. His work has exhibited at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto), Vox Populi (Philadelphia), Scrap Metal Gallery (Toronto), Mercer Union (Toronto), Gallery TPW (Toronto) and Tokyo Wonder Site. Kelly was a Guest Artist at the 2013 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar. Other recent screenings SBC Gallery (Montreal), New York Film Festival: Views from the Avant-Garde, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Toronto International Film Festival: Wavelengths, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Migrating Forms (New York), Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art (Berlin) and Pleasure Dome (Toronto). From 2009 to 2012, Kelly was Programming Director and Curator of Trinity Square Video (Toronto). He holds a Master of Visual Studies from the University of Toronto (2005).

Programmed by Christy LeMaster

Filed under: artist in attendance, documentary, experimental, Uncategorized, video