Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Being Ourselves and Others: Candice Breitz's Factum Jacob

At our home, chez Marco & Christine Jacob, setting up the scene before filming. Photo by Nick Kozak, Flickr.

June 4, 2009. Artist Candice Breitz and her crew arrived at our place at 9 A.M for a whole day of filming to make what was to become Factum Jacob. The consultation had already taken place in another meeting that Candice Breitz had carefully planned a week prior to the interviews. I remember when Candice first introduced herself to us, we could tell right away that she was determined, extremely friendly and articulate, well, in a nutshell, a very remarkable person.
Candice Breitz. Photo: Alex Fahl, 2008
Setting up the decor was interesting to watch. Nick Kozak, one of Candice's assistants, captured a fleeting moment of hesitation in choosing which butterfly frames would suit best (see opening photo). It only took them about half an hour to gather the right objects scattered in our apartment that could render the personality of the twins; and, I think, they did a fantastic job!
Miguel and Marco Jacob were assigned a real test of endurance, the experience was a real journey digging in their memory. Four hours each of non-stop interviews. Quite an ordeal! Of course, it was done with the utmost confidentiality, and each twin was interviewed in total privacy, without the other one being present. So for instance, Marco and I had to step out when Miguel was being interviewed; we took a stroll that afternoon, a good excuse to go have a coffee outside!
They knew they could pass some questions if needed, but none was eluded, as they recollected later. But the mystery is still intact as they didn't want to share their views and answers before the final Factum work is shown...
Candice Breitz, Factum Jacob, 2009, stills from a two-channel video installation. Published in Artforum, September 2009.

"Candice Breitz’s current exhibition "Candice Breitz: Same Same" at The Power Plant in Toronto includes the premiere of the first works in Factum, a series commissioned by the gallery. Named after a pair of paintings by Robert Rauchenberg, Factum I and Factum II (both 1957), that appear indistinguishable but reveal differences on closer inspection, Breitz’s Factum consists of interviews with identical twins, found by placing ads on craigslist in Toronto and in the city’s alternative weekly. Each set of twins appears side by side one another on matching monitors, hung portrait-style. Breitz spoke to each sibling separately about their lives, but using similar questions, then edited the discussions so the pair’s words and gestures play off one another, highlighting both parallels and departures.(...)" (from I'll be your Mirror: Candice Breitz at the Toronto Film Festival, by Ed Halter on Monday, Sept 28th, 2009- in Rhizome)

Marco watching and listening to Factum Kang. The Power Plant, Toronto, October 25th, 2009.
Factum Misericordia
Unfortunately, Factum Jacob as well as 4 other Factum's subjects could not be shown at Toronto's Power Plant Same Same exhibit. The editing could not be finished on time but they are in the process of completion.
I found it fascinating to sit, put the headphones on, and listen to the answers of these 3 pairs of female twins that are currently displayed. Funny, irritating, or intriguing, but always vibrant testimonies of their joys and anxieties met along the way to achieve individuality. Same Same; and yet, different...

Marco Jacob at the Power Plant exhibit, posing in front of the Factum portraits.
Dear Marco & Miguel, I can't wait to discover your Factum Jacob! Time will come soon enough when we can see the complete exhibition. Factum was purchased by a consortium of Toronto donors for the Art Gallery of Ontario's permanent collection.

PS: If you are in Toronto and haven't seen the exhibit yet, you have until November 29th. Don't miss it! Factum is buffered by Breitz's earlier work, which provides some worthwhile background reading.

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