Fascination

2006 | 01:09:02 | Canada | English | B&W and Color | Stereo

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Film or Videomaking, LGBTQ

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" order to take the next step (not forward or backwards, but only: to go on) it is often necessary (for me) to lean on a picture made by someone else; sometimes a word will do, a gesture, the look on a stranger's face. Colin Campbell made the next step possible for me, so I took up a video camera (his pictures were my company, and my camera accompanied his pictures). Between his images of the past and mine, Colin Campbell emerged as a Cold Warrior, as an artist who would fight the Cold War with stereo. Yes, a stereo artist!  Fascination contains only the pictures I would find in my camera when I reviewed the material in the morning, after all the serious work had been done (while I and all the others who spoke his language, lay sleeping)."

--Mike Hoolboom

"A valedictory to late video artist Colin Campbell, a look at Campbell's friends and lovers and a consideration of the Cold War rolled into one, Fascination sets an elegant, high-water mark for writer-helmer Mike Hoolboom, one of Canada's most intriguing non-narrative filmmakers. Deserving recipient of a career survey at the Buenos Aires festival, Hoolboom should find considerable interest in this brilliantly textured biopic-that's-not-a-biopic, which launched at Rotterdam and is a sure thing for adventurous and gay-themed confabs around the globe. As a gay artist with a keen interest in visual media--and one of the first in Canada to take up video as a legitimate art form--Campbell forged a trail that Hoolboom has followed, although in a distinctly different style. Campbell's lifespan (1942-2001) roughly matches that of the Cold War, and Fascination is built on these two parallel tracks. A third strand features Campbell's companions, generally seen facing the lens, as if speaking to Campbell directly. The same style of footage was shot by Hoolboom as well, and is mixed in seamlessly.

Fascination is a sustained dream state in which Hoolboom interweaves his threads. Included are clips from twenty-two Campbell videos from 1972-2001. His final work provides a particularly touching moment, with Campbell saying to his camera, "I, too, have unfulfilled desires." In a series of bold strokes that could easily have backfired, Hoolboom succeeds in linking Campbell's personal life (coming out as a gay man, for instance), his art and the era of the Bomb in a form that resembles visual music. The work of both Hoolboom and Campbell also comments on the debilitating state of commercial television. Editor Mark Karbusicky and Hoolboom masterfully blend the widely disparate archive and newly shot material. Uncredited sound work is densely designed."

--Robert Koehler, Variety

"Metabiopic about the Canadian pioneer of the video scene and icon of the drag scene Colin Campbell who died in 2001. And therefore also about the development of television, the Cold War and the shadow of a master. The productive Canadian filmmaker Mike Hoolboom calls Fascination, "a meta bio pic about Canadian video drag icon Colin Campbell," and there's not much you can add to that. Colin Campbell, a pioneer of video art, has made about 40 video films, including the classic ultra-low budget underground work Modern Love (1979). Until his sudden death in 2001, he was a university lecturer and above all an elegant and fascinating focus of Canadian art life. In his deliberately marginal films, which have been screened at the Dokumenta and the Venice Biennial, he played with an enormous variety of characters, many sexually ambiguous, such as his campy alter ego "Art Star." Usually dressed in women's clothes, he addressed the viewer directly with a variety of confessions.

Hoolboom, who strangely enough only met Campbell twice despite coming from the same city, has made more than an introduction to the work and life of Campbell in Fascination. In a visually inventive and impressive way, he also used the history of the era in which Campbell's art came to fruition: from the Korean War and the Cold War to the rise of the television medium."

--GertJan Zuilhof, International Film Festival Rotterdam, January 2007

"Festival gala opener Mike Hoolboom's Fascination looks to a community of Toronto artists that's been integral to the festival over the years through a portrait of the late video artist Colin Campbell. Rather than package Campbell in a neat bio, Hoolboom immerses the viewer in his world, to the point where you can no longer feel its edges. Archival footage of nuclear tests reveals the social concerns that drove Campbell's work, and a series of contemplative voice-overs draws attention to our amnesia in the age of video, "a tool that erases as it records." Moments with Campbellā€™s circle of friends, including luminaries like John Greyson, give the film an intimate feel, while clips of the artist's often hilarious work, in drag as Colleena or as the smoldering, perpetually shirtless Art Star, bring a degree of levity to this touching work that Campbell surely would have appreciated."

--Kevin Temple, NOW Magazine, April 2006

Premiere

2007