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With a moving-image practice spanning 30 years, and a stalwart, ongoing dedication to the molding of young artist minds at OCAD University, Toronto-based media artist Wrik Mead is truly a local hero. His distinct short-form works combine an animator’s patience with the reflexivity of the DIY psychodrama, producing brilliant first-person narratives of desire, difference and accommodation. Mead’s intelligent, sensitive parables are an intoxicating, visceral mix of painstaking pixilation, fairy-tale allegory and queer-identity. This special retrospective will be held at OCAD University—Mead’s alma mater and place of work for over 20 years.
Wrik Mead; a video by Barbara Sternberg (5 Jan. 2013)
What Isabel Wants 3:00/ 16 mm / 1987
Utilizing human pixillation, Isabelle’s demand to nurture conjures a variety of sensations… perverse, kitsch, sweet witch voodoo?
Warm 5:00 / 16 mm /1992
Wrik Mead’s dreamy Warm suggests the comfort of an embrace as a pixillated naked body flailing against a crumbling ruin… is released from the anguish of containment by another man’s touch
filth 4:22 / 16 mm/ 2004
The house call in filth doesn’t go quite as planned when a simple cleaning job becomes a nightmare. A pixilated tale which combines both the action in the film and the action on the film.
frostbite 12:00 / 16 mm / 1996
A lonely lighthouse keeper rescues his fantasy: a frostbitten man on the rocks.
Winter’s End 7:30 / digital video/ 2010
A wintery sun sets on a scene of loss and mourning. The grieving protagonist plummets capriciously from one state of sadness and confusion to another. Battered by forces malevolent and absurd, mirroring his unpredictable emotional states, he repeatedly falls into an avalanche of ice. Down into a barrage of helping hands, down into a winter forest, down into rooms full of memories, and finally down into the place where he must accept the truth.
summer 1975 10:00 / digital video/2014
summer 1975 is an animated film based on one year in the filmmakers fractured life. Hand drawn rotoscoped figures are layered with stills and live video footage to create an open narrative based on events in his life that took place in 1975.
He was 13 and this was a pivotal year for him in many ways. He discovered the magic of animation and was hooked. He made his first animated film with his best friend, they locked themselves away for the whole summer to complete it. 1975 was also the year that he had his first sexual experience, with said best friend. It was a time of great excitement, confusion, fear and withdrawal. summer 1975 was part of an installation that first exhibited at PayneShurvell Gallery in London, UK.
Bare 3:00 / digital video/ 2008
Through pixilation, a male centre-fold attempts to embellish his features – only to take on more than he can handle.
Prick 3:15 / digital video/ 2008
Stop-motion animation is used to manipulate a penis whose desire becomes its own demise.
Manipulator 4:00 / 16 mm/ 2002
A master brings out his slave and attempts to control him. Things go terribly wrong. Every touch of the slave produces a distortion that encompasses the master. Who exactly is the manipulator? The slave, the master, or the filmmaker?
grotesque 7:30 / 16mm/ 2002
A devil makes a violent attempt to change himself into a heavenly creature. His evil process backfires when he is confronted with the creatures from within.
Guise 10:00 / digital video/ 1997
Guise is an adult fairy tale for the 90s. Arising from the earth, a body discovers its nakedness. A suit of armour becomes a metaphor for the trappings of identity. Pixilated to produce the effect of a human marionette, accompanied by a good-natured verse. guise is by turns dark and humorous.
Closet Case 3:30 / 16mm/ 1995
“In this quintessential ‘coming out’ film, a grinding rhythm leads us through a passage of closed doors, as a man struggles to break free from his literal and social confinement.” – (Images Festival catalogue, 1995)
Camp (patch) 3:30 / digital video / 2000
Based on real-life experiences, camp recounts the stories of homosexual survivors of the WWII concentration camps. A series of short, expressionistic vignettes weave together these horrific experiences. Part documentary, part drama, Camp uses a variety of mediums to explore the emotional reality of those marked with the pink triangle.
Boy 2:40 / digital video/ 2009
Boy is a short film that touches on sexual orientation, homophobia and acceptance. An animated figure swings at the viewer while a robotic voice whispers so that no one around him can hear. Slowly descending into self-doubt, he questions his choices and what he has become.
= 7:30/ digital video/
[on framed vertical monitors]:
Milkman 6:25 / digital video/ 2010
In Milkman, a seated male figure sits staring endlessly ahead, his gaze locked on the viewer. Milk is streaming from his nipple and into a glass that he holds in his left hand. The continuous flow of milk never seems to fill the glass. The sound of the flowing milk creates a human fountain out of this portrait.
Overcome 1:47 / digital video/ 2011
Overcome is a rotoscope animation that loops a simple performance about ego and Eros. In the tradition of the peepshow a private sexual performance is made public. A lone figure enters the frame, smirks at the camera and proceeds to play with himself. It all goes terribly wrong when he drowns in his own ego.
[on unframed horizontal monitor]:
Manholes (Kevin) 2:03 / digital video/ 2010
The Manholes series takes a pan of a single male figure and fragments it into a grid of peepholes. The microscopic mapping of the body is intimate yet clinical. The cascading body parts create a kaleidoscope of changing skin tones. It is difficult to find the point of origin on the subject’s body, though occasionally signifiers make it possible; an eye, a nipple or the toes suddenly orient the viewer. The quiet audio combines electric currents, rushing water and vocals that mimic the visual energy and its meditative quality.
What Isabelle Wants