Exhibitionists·Video

Atom Egoyan has woven a monument to memory — with 2000 feet of film

In his gargantuan new installation, Egoyan has used actual celluloid from his 2000 film Krapp's Last Tape to explore the nature of memory.

The gargantuan installation runs in Regina through January 2

In his gargantuan installation for the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Egoyan has used actual celluloid from his 2000 film Krapp's Last Tape to explore the nature of memory. 3:13

Memory has always been central to filmmaker Atom Egoyan. Just consider his films ExoticaThe Sweet Hereafter and Remember, where his characters often forget or misremember. Now, in his new whirring installation at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Egoyan is using the trappings of his craft in an installation that unravels the fragility not only of our memories themselves, but how we record them.

The installation is called Steenbeckett, a hybrid title made from the name of a table used for film editing and the famed writer Samuel Beckett. In 2000, Egoyan made a film of Beckett's play Krapp's Last Tape, about a man (played by John Hurt in this instance) who is listening to a recording he made 30 years ago, reacting to the tone and narration of the things that were then happening in his life.

Here's where Steenbeckett gets complicated — and Egoyan himself explains the installation in the video above, directed by filmmaker Jeremy Ratzlaff. Steenbeckett is made from two parts: one room contains the cat's cradle-like web of tape from Egoyan's film spinning frenetically around the room, like an out of control steampunk machine, while a small screen plays this analogue version of the film. In an adjacent space, a pristine digital version of the film is projected onto a wall — you can listen to it with headphones, canceling out the clicks and hisses of the tape reeling next door.

In this video, Egoyan opens up about his own questions about memory, and how building this delicate and perplexing installation plays into his childhood, being Canadian, making films and getting older.

Atom Egoyan: Steenbeckett. Until January 2. MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina. www.mackenzieartgallery.ca

Jeremy Ratzlaff is a filmmaker based in Moose Jaw. You can see some of his other work for CBC Arts here and here.

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