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Your Face Arrived
Video Work by Mike Hoolboom at the Niagara Artists Centre
On display in the Show Room from Friday 4 April – June 2014
Special screening at 7:30PM Friday 4 April, with artist Q&A and reception to follow 


The Niagara Artists Centre is proud to be exhibiting the work of preeminent Canadian experimental filmmaker Mike Hoolboom. At a time when documentaries such as How To Survive a Plague and features such as Dallas Buyers Club seem intent on creating a summary of the AIDS pandemic for history’s shelves, Mike Hoolboom presents films spanning twenty years that are inimitably humourous, heartbreaking, and profoundly affecting.

Your Face Arrived brings two deeply personal, multi-award winning AIDS movies into conversation. Frank’s Cock was made in the heat of the plague years, fueled by Callum Keith Rennie’s blood perfect monologue, it won a Golden Leopard in Locarno and was named the best Canadian short at the Toronto International Festival. Twenty years later, Buffalo Death Mask convenes a laughter-filled hauntology between film artist Mike Hoolboom and Canadian art genius Stephen Andrews. Winner of the FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) Award in Oberhausen, as well as awards in Zagreb, Ann Arbor, and Bucharest.

“For more than two decades Mike Hoolboom has been one of our foremost artistic witnesses of the plague of the twentieth century, HIV. A personal voice documenting and piercing the clichéd spectrum of Living With AIDS from carnal abjection to incandescent spirituality, no surviving moving image visionary surpasses him. Buffalo Death Mask is a three-part meditation — visual, oral and haptic, both campy and ecstatic — on survival, mourning, memory, love and community. A conversation between Hoolboom and visual artist Stephen Andrews, both long time survivors of the retrovirus, floats over what seems to be a dream of Toronto and some of its ghosts. No one savours the intimations of immortality inherent in recycled footage like Mike, no one else understands how processed Super 8 can answer the question ‘Why are we still here when so many are gone?’
             – Tom Waugh, film scholar

A Statement by the Artist Mike Hoolboom
The AIDS crisis asked each of us so many questions, including: what is my body? This illness was not like other afflictions or viruses that would be hosted inside the body for a time, this was an illness that had come to stay. Am I the AIDS virus? Where does my body stop and the virus begin? In Buffalo Death Mask a hand reaches into light to pose similar questions about perimeters, boundaries, separations. What is not this body? What does this body not contain? What could possibly be separate from it, now that it has been touched and stained and reconceived by this ingenious virus, that has linked so many of us around the world in a common cause of sorts, as if we were all parts of one body. Is the hand reaching out trying to escape its fate, its status as a hand that has AIDS, that is AIDS? Is it a hand reaching out to other hands, in solidarity, or a hand longing to touch, for one more kiss, as Jarman says with such solemn lightness in his AIDS memoir Blue.

Each of these movies tries to extend the AIDS narrative into non-positive faces and spaces, wider circles of acquaintances are also part of the story being told. The movies offer bodies that do not stop at the skin, but open to become memory, language, shared experience, affect. I am your mouth when I taste the food you make. I am your back up hard drive recall for a night when you were too staggered to put the pieces together. The self reappears as a social body, as a collection of pieces, a collective memory. The cocktail that allowed some of us to survive insisted: you only live twice. And this second life was also the living memory our bodies held for each other, not the promise of a more perfect future, but a past engraved in every cell and tissue. We knew exactly how many faces it took to create an audience. To bear witness. When your face arrived.