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Vera Frenkel, This Is Your Messiah Speaking, 1990-1991. Photo : Harry Chambers

Vera Frenkel
November 22nd 1992
The Velvet Cord and the Dotted Line, An Informal Talk about Dilemmas at the Art-Life Border

Artist talk given by Vera Frenkel during the "Exposition rétrospective Volet II".

Sunday, November 22nd, 14h at Optica, Salle polyvalente.

Works discussed will include the Messiah projects at Newcastle Polytechnic and for the Piccadilly Spectacolor Board in London, - one version of which can be seen in the Optica retrospective – and From The Transit Bar, a six-channel video installation built at « documenta IX » in Kassel earlier this year.

Vera Frenkel’s work is known for it’s questioning of received ideas, and of how we come to know what we think we know. In Messiah Speaking, several interlaced modes of narrative and representation, including American Sign Language, trace the rescue-fantasy connection between messianism and consumerism. Arising from her interest in so-called cargo-cult practices which informed Mad for Bliss performed at the Music Gallery in Toronto in 1989, this work has led to further exploration of related questions of false messiahs, promised lands and the invention and uses of paradises.

The artist’s public stands against film and video censorship helped to clarify the issue in the eighties for the general and arts communities alike. During this period Frenkel built, wrote, performed, directed and edited important video, performance and installation works such as, The Last Screening Room : A Valentine (Minneapolis/Toronto/London, 1984), The Business of Frightened Desires: or the making of a Pornographer (Toronto, Montréal, London, 1985-88); Trust Me, It’s Bliss (The Hugh Hefner/Richard Wagner Connection) (Chicago, 1987).

Excerpt from Messiah Speaking

"This is your Messiah Speaking, instructing you to shop.

Don’t worry.

No one will force you to do anything you don’t want to do.

There’s no rush (he said).

But do shop around (he said)…”
«C’est votre Messie qui vous parle et qui vous dit : Entrez

N’ayez crainte personne ne vous forcera à faire quelque chose que vous n’auriez pas envie de faire

On est pas pressé (dit-il)

Mais entrez, entrez voir (dit-il)…»

-Press release (Optica)

Born in Czechoslovakia, and raised in England, Vera Frenkel studied in Montreal with Albert Dumouchel, Arthur Lismer, Guy Viau and John Lyman. She lives and works in Toronto.