Robert Arndt at Diaz Contemporary, Toronto

By Emmy Lee | Posted on July 9th, 2012

Robert Arndt, A Line Meant in Passing, 2010, Video Still

In the summer of 2010, the Contemporary Art Gallery in Vancouver assembled a group show examining the enduring power of the still life and I had the pleasure of seeing Robert Arndt’s A Line Meant In Passing installed there. I walked into a darkened room with a screen resting on the floor and propped up against the wall to see a glowing film with a simple structure: a conveyor belt carries individual objects from left to right. This digital montage – the laborious result of hunting the images the artist desired online and seamlessly integrating them – has a mysterious and surreal effect. A parade of objects, including both the decorative and the useful, some quite precious and beautiful, others odd and arcane, slide by on a simple white conveyor belt against a neutral grey backdrop and one can’t help but wonder why these specific objects and what is their significance? As each object appears and recedes, one can’t help but evaluate its desirability and meaning; although each item is given an equally impartial treatment, I was surprised to find myself imbuing each with a subjective interpretation. Arndt has long been fascinated with film and has created photographs and films that expose and question the language and structure employed but often unnoticed in the media. The work will be on view again in Toronto in an exhibition titled The Long Take at Diaz Contemporary – aptly named because the long take is discussed in film theory as the ultimate expression of subjectivity, committing the camera (and thus the viewer) to one point of view to the exclusion of others. Arndt’s show opens on July 12 – if you’re in the Toronto area, definitely check out this enigmatic work.


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