Toronto Metropolitan University

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In Media Res: Atom Egoyan’s Utopian Praxis

posted on 2024-01-29, 21:26 authored by Jennifer BurwellJennifer Burwell, Monique TschofenMonique Tschofen

[Introduction]: “Atom Egoyan has written, directed, produced, and exhibited one of the most intriguing bodies of work. In dense, multi-layered projects in a remarkably wide range of media, he has focused on everything, as he says, from “the stories of survivors passed on to children and grandchildren, to the industrial needs of commercial entertainment, to the private and sacred mythologies of art,” showing “the collective human linkage of experience [that] is both the wonder and tragedy of our condition” (Egoyan 2004b, 903). It is in between these two poles—between tragedy and wonder—that his work is best understood. He relentlessly puts on display, spectacularizes, and even reproduces in his viewers all of the unhealthy symptoms of modernity. He documents the global flows of persons, culture, and commodities caught up, like every other aspect of capital, in transnational movements and exchanges, and shows how these flows radically transform the touchstones of place, home, self, and family. Yet at the same time, he depicts the forging of new communities that develop beyond consanguinal relations, by chance and by choice, across the diaspora. Egoyan displays our cultish and fetishistic reliance on images and screens, and reveals how they render human experience hallucinatory or solipsistic. At the same time, he constructs the screen as a meeting place where new, profound, and consciousness-altering forms of exchange takes place. Against official history’s erasures and amnesias, he shows how in intimate moments, lovers, parents, children, and perfect strangers can express what has been repressed, using words, images, and gestures. In so doing, they connect to each other and to their shared pasts and futures.”




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