“Making the everyday magical”

Photo by Denis Bouvier

Photo by Denis Bouvier

On the left side of the photo is Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite’s latest installation outside the Shangri-La Hotel on West Georgia St. 8 Days by Mark Lewis projects one film continuously each night from dusk till dawn. There are 8 films played on consecutive nights and this process will be repeated until March 30. They are slow, short, silent films which draw our attention to a variety of cinematic techniques like long still shots, panning, zooming and tracking. It is like photography slowing coming to life.

Lewis shoots everyday scenarios like the London, England laundromat shown here and commands the viewers to compare and contrast them to the actual street where they are watching his film, in this case West Georgia St. The viewers are the ultimate interpreters. Their attention is drawn to the film and perhaps any socio-economic implications it imparts, and then they can view their own reality, just by a turn of the head. This photo highlights the reflective nature of his films: there is the reflecting pool below the screen and the screen image of a pale hooded man peering from the window of a laundromat and perhaps reflecting on what he sees.

This film is called Willesden Laundromat; Reverse Dolly, Pan right, Friday Prayer (2010). The scene begins in a dingy London laundromat where we have a long still shot of clothes spinning in dryers. Then the camera pans out to another still shot of the face of the pale hooded male looking out into the street. The film continues as the camera moves from right to left on the grey, sunless street. We view the busy daily life of people walking, waiting for buses and traffic moving in front of a row of buildings with a variety of mainly ethnic shops on the street levels. It is not a posh neighbourhood but life is

The short vignette of urban life captures our attention because of its ordinary familiarity and at the same time has very dramatic elements: the shabby laundromat and the somewhat ominous face of the man in its window. Then we have the contrast of the recognizable British architecture underpinned by the extraordinary diversity of the neighbourhood with a number of people in ethnic dress.

A pigeon alights on a windowsill above a shop called Bright Windows. A bus slows, giving us plenty of time to read the message written on its side: “Cecelia: making the everyday magical.”

This is the tagline of writer Cecelia Ahern, who gained fame with her novel and subsequent film P.S. I Love You. She takes ordinary events and turns them into magical narratives. It is clear this is part of Lewis’s message. It is certainly magical peering into an intimate London street scene while standing in Downtown

Lewis was born in Ontario and currently lives in the U.K. He began his career as a photographer and lived and worked in Vancouver from 1989 to 1997. He represented Canada at the 2009 Venice Biennale of Visual Art and has been exhibited throughout Europe and Canada.