From Grey-Bruce to Helsinki

Delineations of the Poetic

Philip Hoffman

We are pleased to present a series of poetic works from three local artists: Jon Radojkovic, Rhonda Abrams and Liz Zetlin and one international artist, Sami van Ingen who is here to present his films from Finland. This program begins to explore the poetic nature of the moving image. Ranging from a work that visualises a written poem, in Radojkovic’s delightful Going Fishin’, to a poetic representation of time in Rhonda Abrams’ sumptuous and touching Chronograph. Where Going Fishin’ relies on the poetic text and Radojkovic’s humorous and charming performance to fuel the visuals, Chronograph makes use of temporal techniques and an array of visual materials to document human growth, from a child to girlhood. The emotional nature of the work surfaces from the mother’s calculated distance from her child, which allows the piece to express the universal and the personal at the same time.

Grey County poet Liz Zetlin’s film, Stone Quarry achieves a haunting expression of humans’ relationship to the so-called barren lands of the Bruce Peninsula and Ireland. This work expresses David Suzuki’s comment: ‘the way we see the world shapes the way we treat it.’ Zetlin turned to the ghazal, an ancient Persian poetic form dating from the 8th century to evoke these sparse limestone landscapes. The word ghazal comes from the cry of the gazelle when it is cornered in the hunt and knows it will die, and means: song to the beloved.

Sami van Ingen’s Days, is silent on the subject of animals and yet animals constitute the principle theme in his meditation on the instrumentalization of nature, on the silencing of animals. The video opens with the juxtaposition of two images: fire and the scull of a tiger which sets up a space for contemplating technology and death, control and mastery. Animals behind fences, captured through photography in parks and zoos, mummified and frozen for human consumption serve as mere furnishings or objects of the scientific gaze. A person slowly rolls a tigers skin for export; a skull is tagged and classified. Days is a search for some responsive human chord but like the flashlight scrambling around the room, it finds no resolution.

The program closes with van Ingen’s Texas Scramble, which picks up where Days concludes. Here the structures of the mind and of cultures are the very subject of the film. We open with a quotation from the Buddhist text, Dhammapada, which states that we can understand the world only through ourselves, the structures of the mind are the structures of the world, ‘what we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow.’ Through sumptuous images which are mostly in movement, the film records a journey through spaces of the mind, a man’s shadow on the ground, architectural columns, taxidermy, and golf are the language games essential to our being in the world. Van Ingen finds beauty in these mediations, through which poesis surfaces. This montage is not presumptuous, but presents a series of lush meditations which gently collide to form insight.

Program Details

Saturday August 28, 8:00
Symphony Barn
#393889 Consession 2 EGR, Durham
(3 km. north of Grey Road 4)

Going Fishin’

5 min. (2004) Canada

Jon Radojkovic

Going Fishin’ is Jon Radojkovic’s visual representation of his poem about eco-consciousness as told through a men’s camping trip. Radojkovic’s humorous and charming performance fuels the visuals in this entertaining and thought provoking piece.


18 min. (2002) Canada

Rhonda Abrams

A visual study of the experience of time, using three measures of time. Once a year for eleven years Abrams documented her daughter’s growth. Once a month for one year, she films her daughter by the riverside. One afternoon she captures a moment of physical experience. This film/video simply shows time and space, as it unfolds, from a human perspective.

Stone Quarry

4 min. (2004) Canada

Liz Zetlin

Stone Quarry is one of six short films that explores the limestone barrens of the Bruce Peninsula, the Irish Burren, and the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. This ‘rock’ video combines poetry and images, music and ambient sound, to create a haunting expression of humans’ relationship to these so-called barren lands. Carole Warren has composed a Gregorian chant (Dorian mode) and sings one of Zetlin’s ghazals, accompanied by images from Ireland and the Bruce Peninsula. Zetlin turned to the ghazal, an ancient Persian poetic form dating from the 8th century, to evoke these sparse limestone landscapes.


16 min. (2000) Finland

Sami van Ingen

Days is a visualisation of the dilemma between mythology and actuality, human desire for mystification evoked with the consequential outcome of eventual destruction, in this case, of the jungle.

Texas Scramble

21 min. (1996) Finland

Sami van Ingen

Texas Scramble is drawn from the notion of memory as the basis for our perception. It progresses through situations and moments consisting of repetitions of varying type. The film stands outside narrative, letting chance associations form the path. To quote the Dhammapada: ‘what we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow, our life is the creation of our mind’.