Nicole Raufeisen and Ryan Witt

Mirror, mirror on the wall / 2002 / 5'

The Western Front
Vancouver, Canada


Mirror, mirror on the wall

Mirror, mirror on the wall was shot as part of a series of work that derived from a road trip taken by us from Vancouver down through to Tijuana. Much of the work performed looked to investigate states of anxiety and paranoia particular to post 9/11 America and was made manifest through our exploitation of the West coast landscape. Our primary point of reference for this video was a billboard work from 1976-77 by Ed Ruscha entitled The Back of Hollywood (Hollywood Rear-View Mirror). The billboard was executed backwards so that it would only look 'right' when leaving L.A. Our video superficially adopts the Pop artist's billboard form to the effect of amplifying his lighthearted critique of Los Angeles and Hollywood to a position of critical ambivalence. In a sense we are attempting to rearticulate or up the ante of both Pop art's historical indifference and Hollywood cinema's obsession with endgame narratives to critical effect given the extraordinary sense of vulnerability felt by many people post 9/11. In Mirror, mirror on the wall the 'Hollywood' landscape shakes and one might conclude that it is the result of an earthquake (the area sits on the San Andreas fault line) or perhaps the heavy beating of an anxious viewer's heart. After a couple of minutes the viewer may syncopate to the regular beat of the landscape as produced by a popular house music track played in our rental car. This reading might be aided by the fact that our viewpoint can only be (easily) attained through driving and the image likely made in the side view mirror of the car. We look to disrupt Hollywood's incessant representation of it's own annihilation by never allowing the 'money shot' to occur. The landscape is continually destabilized by way of generic house beats in the looped video and affirmative redemption post 'annihilation' is postponed for the moment. The work also interested us in light of Hollywood cinema's seemingly dominant role in shaping culture/identity vis a vis Lacanian theories of subject formation. What does one see when the mirror comes loose from the wall? Our position as emerging artists in Vancouver is also not lost on us with the side-view mirror used to re-examine Pop strategies and the work positioned in a dialectical relationship with Jeff Wall's landscape manual.


The Western Front

Founded in 1973, the Western Front is one of Canada's first artist-run centres, with an international reputation for its ongoing role as a laboratory for challenging and contemporary artistic practice and performance. Growing out of the commitment of its founders, the Western Front is dedicated to encouraging and promoting the role of the artist in determining the cultural ecology, to support research and development in contemporary artistic forms, and to create an interdisciplinary environment that sustains local, national and international artistic communities through presentations and exchange. The Western Front Society has five programs that focus on the production and presentation of exhibitions, performance art, new music, media including video, audio and telecommunications, publications, spoken word, and a bi-monthly arts magazine. Through a residency program, local, national and international artists are invited to create new works in this interdisciplinary environment.

303 E.8th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Canada V5T 1S1
+1 604 876 9343
+1 604 876 4099

Contact: Director/Curator Jonathan Middleton