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Alla Gadassik: Media Scholar + Animation Curator

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Making + Curating

Exhibition: “Refractions: Mia Milardo + Weiwei Wu”

Refractions (January 2023) brings together new work by Mia Milardo and Weiwei Wu, both of whom are alumna of my Animate Materials Workshop. Both artists were trained in traditional animation production, and it has been immensely rewarding to see how the workshop format liberated them to experiment in different ways. The exhibition has drawn a lot of attention, with visitors stopping for an extended time every time that I’ve passed by it in the Michael O’Brian Exhibition Commons. My curatorial text can be found here.

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News: Curatorial Residency

My first visit to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery and Len Lye Archive a decade ago (my post from that trip!) was meant to be a single research trip to cover one case study of my dissertation, but it grew into an enduring relationship with Len Lye’s work and with the gallery more broadly. I’m so grateful that the gallery is supporting my vision for a curatorial project that brings together experimental animation and textile arts!

Over the next two years I’ll be working with them (mostly remotely) to realize a project that expands my interest in curatorial forms of sharing research. I’m fortunate to have a supportive gallery director in Zara Stanhope and great on-site partner in Paul Brobbel. More information on the residency can be found here.

Guest Curator and Judge: GIRAF’18

I’ve been following the Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival (GIRAF) remotely for years, but it wasn’t until they went online during the pandemic that I got to experience their wonderful programming and community feel. This year, I’m giddy to share, I will be a guest curator and judge with the festival. I’ll be presenting a special programme devoted to animating graphite that connects to our work in the Animate Materials Workshop.

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Rear Window Cinema: Letters from Isolation (2020-2021)

What can community-focused, site-specific media exhibition look like during a pandemic? How can the social intimacy that has always been a part of artists’ cinema adapt to the context of physical distancing?

Rear Window Cinema transforms artists’ private windows (domestic and studio spaces) into ephemeral screens for rear-window projections that are externally visible to passersby on the street. Between the months of October and December, animation artists displayed animated letters to their neighbourhoods, using their windows as the creative point of departure and eventual surface for projection.

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Fruit of All (2008), 2:20min

Fruit of All is one of three short films produced as part of my joint Master’s degree at York University / Ryerson University. During my graduate studies I was especially interested in experimental animation, including connections or fissures between analog and digital animation. With this film, I explored my computer’s flatbed scanner as a digital “direct animation” device by scanning and rendering the flesh of fruit. The scanned images were paired with hand-drawn animation made using a digital drawing tablet. Making this film really transformed how I understand the concept of “indexicality,” which throughout the 20th century was often misleadingly used to separate photography from drawings, or live-action from animated cinema.

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Still Moving (2008), 2:50min

Still Moving is one of three short films produced as part of my joint Master’s degree at York University / Ryerson University. During my graduate studies I was especially interested in experimental animation, including how different hand-made animation processes foster different relationships between a filmmaker’s body and filmmaking technology. This particular film was sparked by Oskar Fischinger’s wax experiments (1921-1926), which were produced by slicing through pillars of multicoloured wax (using a kind of custom guillotine) and photographing the slices one at a time [decades later a variation on this method would be known as “stratacut animation”).

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City Body (2008), 4:30min

City Body was one of three short films produced as part of my joint Master’s degree at York University and Ryerson University. During my graduate studies I was especially interested in experimental animation, particularly “direct animation,” in which the image is produced directly on a film celluloid strip by scratching, painting, manipulating light and otherwise using the celluloid as a direct canvas. The direct animation experiments of Norman McLaren, Len Lye, and Harry Smith were very important to me. Why did their films affect me in a certain way, and to what extent did specific materials (celluloid film projection) or specific filmmaking gestures (hand-drawing and scratching) play a role in their sensory and rhythmic effects? 

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Looking for Anne (2010), 5:00min

Looking for Anne was a short video produced for a travelling cross-Canada exhibition marking the centennial anniversary of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book Anne of Green Gables. The video toured the exhibition nationally and introduced key themes from Dr. Irene Gammel’s book Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic. The video was produced as part of my affiliation with the Modern Literature & Culture Centre (MLC) at Ryerson University at the time.

Marion and Gen (2010), 7:10min

Marion and Gen (2010), is a film/video essay and accompanying text. This project was commissioned as part of the Requiem//102 Project.  The “Requiem//102” project was a collaboration between artists, scholars, and writers. Each contributor wrote (or made) a response based on one still frame from Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 film Requiem for a Dream. My contribution is a short film that begins with my assigned still image and then forms an alternate biography for the character of Marion Silver.

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