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Archi-féministes! : The Virtual Exhibition

Archi-féministes! : Archiver le corps

Archi-féministes! : Performer l’archives

Olivia Boudreau

Sorel Cohen

Raphaëlle de Groot

Suzy Lake

Claire Savoie

Jana Sterbak

Sophie Bélair Clément

Vera Frenkel

Clara Gutsche

Emmanuelle Léonard

Vera Frenkel
Born in Bratislava (former Czechoslovakia), lives and works in Toronto

String Games : Improvisations for Inter-City Video (Montreal-Toronto) 1974-2005


Vera Frenkel
Vera Frenkel, String Games : Improvisations for Inter-City Video
(Montreal-Toronto) 1974-2005

Installation média mixte
Collection Agnes Etherington Art Centre,
Queen’s University Archives (Kingston, Ontario)
Gift of the artist (Koerner Residency), 2006

The Vera Frenkel Fonds

Documentation audio | Audio documentation,
Queen’s University Archives (Kingston, Ontario)

Photos : Richard-Max Tremblay

Vera Frenkel’s interactive performance video took place between October 30th and November 13th, 1974, in closed-circuit sessions at the Bell Canada Teleconferencing Studios in Montreal and Toronto, with playback at Galerie 5, Montreal. Inspired by the Cat’s Cradle string game, she brought together 10 participants—five in each city, forming the fingers of two hands—to carry out a series of real-time improvisations orchestrated by the artist and her guests and captured on video monitors. Participants were instructed to choose nine elements, “objects/figures”(1) that would make up their “inner archives”(2) and that would have to be performed: a number, a letter, a word, a name, a phrase, a fragment of a poem, a visual image, a gesture, a sound. The two-channel DVD version of this fascinating work, featuring hour five (guest games) of the original nine-hour transmission, offers an early glimpse of Frenkel’s use of technology in her practice, a space of conceptual and political mediation. At OPTICA, her work has appeared in “Verifications” (1984) and “Exposition rétrospective: volet II,” which marked the centre’s twentieth anniversary in 1992; she is also one of the authors of Creative Confusions: Interdisciplinary Practices in Contemporary Art (2001).


(1) Sylvie Lacerte et al., Vera Frenkel : Cartographie d’une pratique | Mapping a Practice, Montréal, SBC galerie d’art contemporain, 2010, p.16.

(2) Ibid., p.16.

List of components :
10 horizontal digital prints
1 framed poster (twin posters)
1 framed drawing (rough design layout for the original catalogue)
1 handbound 1974 catalogue
1 audio track (MP3 format) | 20 min
“Introducing String Games to the Players and the Production Team”, by Vera Frenkel (September 1974), key excerpts from the MP3 audio track.
2 flat screens
2 DVD players
1 showcase (shelf + plexiglass cover)

Participants :
Toronto “Hand”
Little finger :: Stephen Schofield
Ring Finger :: Ellen Maidman
Middle Finger :: Thomas Stiffler
Index Finger :: Julia Grant
Thumb :: Bill Dwyer

Montreal “Hand”
Little finger :: Lawrence Adams
Ring Finger :: Vera Frenkel
Middle Finger :: Miriam Adams
Index Finger :: Linda Kelly
Thumb :: Tom Graham

Production :
Lawrence Adams, Bronwyn Bauchman, Arlene Collins, Nenagh McCutcheon, Sara McCutcheon, Terry McGlade, Noah Shopsowitz, Larry Towell.

Special thanks to :
Mel Calder, Ernie Frohlich, Bruce Prentiss, Pierre Provencher and Albert, the Master-Technician at Bell Canada; Greg Allen and Mike Edmonds of the Media Centre, University of Toronto; and Sony Corporation of Canada Limited for providing playback equipment for the three week period.