Julia Feyrer – Background Actors, MARCH 16–APRIL 21, 2018

Julia Feyrer
Background Actors
March 16–April 21, 2018

Catriona Jeffries

The individual movements and actions of background actors or “extras” in conventional film and television function for the camera and microphone only as aspects of the environment. A background actor is empty of an inherent identity—a ghostly epiphenomenon haunting the set and blurred edges of the screen. Portraying the quotidian roles of corpses, bystanders and inaudible speakers, they occupy an indistinct role between prop and person.

In Julia Feyrer’s film New Pedestrians, the background actors silently inhabit the roles of pedestrian or passersby. Casually strolling through their process of ontological becoming with every step, like an exercise in walking meditation, the pedestrians trace a path that is unstable, full of distractions, thoughts and emotions, crises of identity, anxiety and restlessness.

By filming her sculptures as props, and the gallery installation as set, each of Feyrer’s exhibitions seeps into the next, creating the causes and conditions for the next film to germinate. The films make use of “practical film effects”: physical objects and non-digital special effects made for the verisimilitude of the camera—a world of techniques and materials designed to mirror our own but without the pretext of permanence.

Individual works in this exhibition include Corpse, a dummy roughly life cast from the artist’s own body, handblown glass heads that are microphone supports for walking binaural audio recordings and ASMR trigger videos, the iron mold used to cast the blown glass heads, and a kinetic Device for Sensing Habitable Zones, featuring small exoplanet models scattered around a strange terrain below a rotating array of “ticklers”.

This new body of work continues Feyrer’s interest in consciousness and nonnormative forms of experience. Meditating on the human body and its intimate relationships to nonhuman entities, such as the 100 trillion bacterial cells that make up our microbiome, our boundaries of self quickly become uncertain. In Background Actors, Feyrer asks how we can disrupt our anthropocentric worldview, in solidarity with the nonhuman, as a generative site of meaning and speculative science fiction.

Julia Feyrer (b. 1982, Victoria, BC) works across disciplines, grounded by the physicality and somatic relationships of celluloid filmmaking and sculpture. By presenting the camera as an extension of the human body’s sensorium with which to feel time and perception, Feyrer questions how these tools aid and alter our experience of the world. She graduated in 2010 with a Meisterschülerin from the Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany. Feyrer has had solo exhibitions at POTTS, Los Angeles; Western Front, Vancouver; and Artspeak, Vancouver. Recent collaborative exhibitions with Tamara Henderson include The Last Waves at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver; Consider the Belvedereat the ICA Philadelphia; and Bottles Under the Influence at Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton and Presentation House Gallery, North Vancouver. Julia is also the co-editor of the audiozine Spoox and author of half a dozen artist books published by Perro Verlag.