Screening: Vera Frenkel

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Vera Frenkel, still from “The Secret Life of Cornelia Lumsden, A Remarkable Story Part 2, "And Now The Truth" (A Parenthesis)” (1980). Courtesy V tape, Toronto

Vera Frenkel, still from “The Secret Life of Cornelia Lumsden, A Remarkable Story Part 2, "And Now The Truth" (A Parenthesis)” (1980). Courtesy V tape, Toronto

Searching for the truth: Vera Frenkel’s The Secret Life of Cornelia Lumsden, A Remarkable Story (1979-1980)

Join Walter Phillips Gallery’s Curatorial Research Practicum, Yasmin Nurming-Por for a screening of Canadian artist, Vera Frenkel’s two-part video work, The Secret Life of Cornelia Lumsden, A Remarkable Story (1979-1980). This work is sourced from the permanent collection of Walter Phillips Gallery as well as Vtape, and is being screened in conjunction with the current exhibition, Impulses which makes visible rarely seen works from the Walter Phillips Gallery Permanent Collection.

Blurring the relationship between fiction and reality, the works are an investigation into the life and disappearance of novelist Cornelia Lumsden, who the video purports was a little-known Canadian writer working in the 1930s. Part 1, Her Room in Paris (1979), will be followed by Part 2, "And Now The Truth" (A Parenthesis) (1980). The semblances of facts that Frenkel assembles in Part 1 unravel rapidly in Part 2—leaving unclear what secrets remain, and which truths and fictions belong to Lumsden or to Frenkel. Celebrated for her multi-disciplinary practice, this early work by Frenkel is a preamble to the engagement with archives that emerges in some of her later work, such as ONCE NEAR WATER: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive.

These works were first presented in Banff as part of the 1983 exhibition, The Second Link-Viewpoints on Video in the Eighties, organized by curator Lorne Falk alongside seven additional curators at the Walter Phillips Gallery. Frenkel’s work for this exhibition was selected by Canadian curator Peggy Gale.

Vera Frenkel (b.1938 Bratislava, Slovakia) is a multidisciplinary Canadian artist who has been practicing since the 1970s. Largely known for her video work and installations, Frenkel’s oeuvre explores the systems of power that structure and condition the experience of everyday life. Issues such as displacement, migration, and cultural memory are focal points in her work. Notable exhibitions include: documenta IX, Kassel (1992); the Offenes Kulturhaus, Linz (1996); the Setagaya Museum, Tokyo (1996); the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2014); and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2014).