This exhibition represents the North American premiere of Atom Egoyan’s Steenbeckett, originally commissioned and produced by Artangel (London) and shown at venues throughout the United Kingdom. Steenbeckett, largely regarded as Egoyan’s installation masterpiece, epitomizes the creative intersection of film, installation art, creative technologies and performance. An artistic tour de force, it uses excerpts from his commissioned film of Samuel Beckett's renowned play Krapp's Last Tape, in which a haunted sexagenarian (played by John Hurt) reviews self-important reel-to-reel tape recordings he made in his prime, reflecting on the pain of hubris, dashed ambition, and lost love. The viewer is immersed in Krapp's traumatic reverie through a dense aesthetic layering of technologies in space. Two thousand feet of celluloid travels around the darkened gallery on a system of pulley-suspended sprockets, propelled through the Steenbeck editing table, whose small screen also serves as our fittingly obscure and distanced window onto Krapp. With the wear and tear on the celluloid and the system, the whole work edges, like Krapp and his testimony, inexorably toward extinction.
A catalogue of the exhibition, also entitled Atom Egoyan: Steenbeckett, edited by Timothy Long and Christine Ramsay, will include articles and commentary by Atom Egoyan, Catherine Fowler (University of Otago, New Zealand), Elizabeth Matheson (Strandline Curatorial Collective, Regina) and David Pike (American University, Washington DC).