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Remembrance of Things Past

Sutapa Biswas
2006
9 mins 58 secs 35mm to DVD
double screen projection

Remembrance of Things Past

Shot in the harbour of Toronto, the subject of the work is drawn from a rather uncanny moment / event that the artist witnessed in 2002, from the fifth floor of the Radisson Hotel, Queens Quay, Room 518. A bus carrying a group of young teenagers pulled up at a stop by the quayside, and the children disembarked. The bus departed leaving the teenagers who were accompanied by an adult, to wait seemingly without purpose. After a short while of leaning against posts and walls at the quayside, the group (both female and male adolescents) began to occupy themselves. First by grouping into smaller units, and then by acting out a series of quite ordinary but beguiling activities such as singing to each other. There were those who were peacocks, and those who weren't. Just as suddenly as the bus left, a second bus arrived. An adult (teacher presumably) climbed on, and then re-emerged into the open. She appeared to give instruction to the on-looking children, who after a fashion, began to climb into the bus. There was some counting of heads inside the bus, a strange time delay, before the bus closed its doors, shuddered, and then drove away along the main arterial route alongside the quay. It was the seemingly unspectacular nature of this happening or moment, which Biswas found to be spectacular and visually powerful and poetic.

Remembrance of Things Past is a powerful non-narrative artist's film that portrays an insight into the lives of a group of young adolescents who whilst waiting for a bus to pick them up, are forced to occupy themselves. Beautifully shot, and visually reminiscent of the films of Sam Peckinpah, in the right hand screen, camera weaves between one group of adolescents and another, as if catching their actions and thoughts. The left hand screen remains fixed allowing the viewer to watch the traffic of the major arterial road routes that dissect the plane of the shot from in front and behind. The sound track is a collage of sounds; traffic passing and observations made by various members of the group, who slowly reveal their personal views on 'what the world expects of them'. It is a moving work, which takes the viewer by surprise as they are brought to reflect on the present moment and the futility of their own lives.

Remembrance of Things Past was made possible with the generous support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Bevis Bowden, Teddy Testar, Janna Graham and the Teen Council, Elan Mastai, Sparks Productions Incorporated, Toronto, and the Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

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