Mark Levis
Some Near Distance

Mark Lewis is a Canadian artist living in London whose work over the last ten years explores the nature of the film image and the relationship between the pictorial image and the moving image. His carefully constructed films examine the notions of real time and representation through the audience’s expectation of ‘action’ as they watch a sequence of film.

Seven of Lewis’ works, most of them recent, were screened in the rekalde exhibition and are centred around Airport (2003), the piece that occupied the front wall of the exhibition space. The camera is situated at a fixed point in one of the terminals at Toronto Airport and films the comings and goings in a stereotypical place that at first sight seems to be of no particular interest to the viewer. It is a hybrid space, neither public nor private yet both at the same time, like most places we spend much of our lives in. It is a shared world, untouched by the private stories that follow one after another within this vast structure that frames the image.

On the other side of the selfsame screen, we have another work that is completely different yet nevertheless still linked to the film we have just seen. Algonquin Park (2002), a natural park in Canada filmed in early March, focuses on the singular intensity of what would seem to be a romantic landscape. The slow movement of the camera, like the eyes of an observer who does not want to miss any of the pleasures his contemplation might afford us, seems to stimulate an unusual synchrony between the image and the beholder.

Lewis seems to view the image as a way to discover the world rather than simply to present it. The images of stretches of land, encounters, airports, and suburbs in a city like London represent solid ground on which we can halt for a moment, a visible point to head for where we can put down an anchor while looking at the landscape around us. In a strange way, the image seems to free us, it allows us to establish our individual and collective points of reference for interpreting what we see, from painting to contemporary film. In a world that is rapidly becoming ever more globalised, Lewis seeks, through images that are seemingly simple and irrelevant, to investigate the meaning that notions such as speed, slowness or attention have for every one of us nowadays. The action lies in the changing meaning of these images.

Each image is almost a painting, an opportunity to read reality, not in terms of what ‘happens’, but through the formal criteria on which the image is built. Time, as contemplated through the action, loses all relevance and we, as spectators, are expected to sharpen our sense of observation, to heighten the pleasure we take in gazing. Concepts such as real time, narrative and attention are of critical importance in Lewis’ works, which seek to re-establish the link between our sense of sight and our ability to rediscover the sensorial dimension of reflection.

rekalde organized a seminar on the work of Mark Lewis on 25 September as a closing event for the exhibition. The artist’s latest film, The Brass Rail, a co-production with the Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art in Malmö, Sweden, will also be screened during the month of September.

Mark Lewis: Some Near Distance
10.07.2003 – 28.09.2003

Sala Rekalde
Bilbao, Spain



exhibition view, 2003, @Sala Rekalde