Power Plays

Presented by SAW Video Media Art Centre

Curated by Christopher Rohde

Power Plays is a curated online selection of short video works by local artists and SAW Video members past and present, looking at how technology is currently diversifying and accelerating. This diverse programme features a blend of animation, live image mixing, re-appropriated videogame imagery and docu-journalism that reflects the mediated landscape around us. Each of these four artists gives a unique perspective on new technologies, particularly media technologies, and the degree to which they can be empowering for both individuals and communities, while also reflecting critically on its limitations and the structures of power and control in society that continue to dictate how technology is used, by whom, and for what.

Screening list:

A Night at Home (Rehab Nazzal2009, 4 min.)

The Story of Apanatschi and Her Redheaded Wrestler (Bear Witness, 2008, 6 min.)

Jeux (Josée Dubeau, 2012, 13 min.)

dead end job (Ryan Stec, 2004, 6.5 min.)



Presented by SAW Video Media Art Centre in partnership with Creative City Network of Canada



Video synopses:

A Night at Home (Rehab Nazzal2009, 4 min.)

A Night at Home was shot in Palestine in 2006 during a night invasion to my hometown near Jenin by the Israeli occupation forces. My mom, my son and I woke up on the sound of shooting. In the dark, trapped in our beds, we listened to the shooting. This video presents glimpse of the violence civilians have to endure under military power.


The Story of Apanatschi and Her Redheaded Wrestler (Bear Witness, 2008, 6 min.)

The same kind of stereotypes exist in video games as they do in TV and film. In the case of fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken, the characters’ fighting styles are generally determined by their race. This re-visioning of the 1992 arcade game Virtual Fighter 5 follows the howling loin-cloth-clad, red-haired Indian wrestler, Wolf Hatfield. Bear Witness allows the gamer to play stylist, allowing wardrobe changes including a big headdress and aviator shades. Bear Witness noted that, “Wolf started looking a lot like my father did in an old photo.” This work borrows its title from the keen observation of a seven year old friend who asked Bear Witness: “Is he Nish? No, he has red hair. He must be Mohawk.”


Jeux (Josée Dubeau, 2012, 13 min.)

Jeux is composed of eight vignettes, in which performers Véronique Guitard and Hugo Gaudet-Dion reinvent the domestic environment in different playful scenarios, culminating in a sequence shot at IKEA in Ottawa. This lengthy shopping session, shot with a hidden camera, is accelerated and condensed, creating amusing perspectives of the two performers as they evolve throughout the process. The acceleration effect is also used throughout the video to deconstruct the action and create unexpected images. Jeux features electronic sound compositions by Simon Guibord and was edited by Phil Rose. It was produced with the support of the Ontario Arts Council’s Avance medias program which provides support to francophone artists in Ontario.


dead end job (Ryan Stec, 2008, 6.5 min.)

dead end job was created using a surveillance camera system connected to a digital video mixer. Using the movement of the urban environment surrounding the surveillance system as the launching point the video mixer helps move the images into a blurry dreamscape. Feedback and colorization techniques turn buildings into rivers of architectural shapes as the city is transformed to an abstract dream world. The title refers to the context within which the work was created. The surveillance camera system used belonged to the arts center in downtown Ottawa where I worked at the reception. The video was created during my work hours.


Artist bios:

Rehab Nazzal is a Palestinian-born multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. She holds an MFA from Ryerson University, a BFA from the University of Ottawa, and a B.A. in Economics from Damascus University, Syria. Nazzal’s work has been shown in Canada and internationally in both group and solo exhibitions and screenings including Gallery 101, SAW Video, X Photography Festival, A Space Gallery, IMA Gallery, CONTACT Photography Festival, Toronto-Palesine Film Festival. Located at the boundary between documentay and video art, Nazzal’s work explores new forms of representation of atrocities of war and colonialism through the voice of the colonized and oppressed. Nazzal has received a number of awards including the Edmund and Isobel Ryan Visual Arts award in photography (University of Ottawa), Documentary Photography for Social Justice Award (Ryerson), Ontario Graduate Fellowship, Ryerson University Scholarships, and Ontario Art Council and City of Ottawa grants.

Ehren “Bear Witness” Thomas is an Ottawa-based media artist who has been producing short experimental videos for over nine years. Bear explores stereotypical representations of Aboriginal people in North American media and popular culture, re-editing these images to create new narratives representing his experiences as an urban Aboriginal artist. In 2008, his video BrokeDickDog was included in the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography exhibition Steeling the Gaze: Portraits of Aboriginal Artists, hosted by the National Gallery of Canada. Bear’s video The Story of Apanatschi and her Redheaded Wrestler was selected for the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, as part of the Culture Shock program. During his residency at Parramatta Artists Studios he had a solo exhibition as part of the 2010 Sydney Festival, titled The Only Good NDN. Bear was awarded the Aboriginal International Residency Exchange in Australia by the Canada Council for the Arts. Bear also exhibited two videos as part of Drive By: A Road Trip with Jeff Thomas at the University of Toronto Art Centre. In 2010, Thomas collaborated with the NFB on a video project to remix films from the NFB archive. Bear also produces live audio-visual performances and co-founded A Tribe Called Red, a native DJ collective who produce music internationally known as Pow Wow-step. The group have been featured on the MTV Iggy website, and host a monthly event called Electric Pow Wow.

Josée Dubeau holds an MFA in Fine Arts from the University of Québec in Montréal (1994). Her installations, drawings and videos are developed in the context of residencies and exhibitions in Canada and abroad, including the IAAB/Christoph Merian Stiftung in Basel (1998), the Künstlerhaus Villa Concordia in Bamberg, Germany (2002-03), the Künstlerhaus Bethanien International Residency Program in Berlin (2004-05), the Studio of Tokyo in Roppongi Hills, where she was the recipient of grants from the Ministère des relations internationales du Québec, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Ministère de la culture, des communications et de la condition féminine du Québec in 2009. Josée Dubeau was awarded the International Residency Grant at SPACE in London by the Canada Council for the Arts in 2010. She has received numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and realized several public art commissions in Québec since 2000. She taught drawing and sculpture at the University of Ottawa from 2006-11. Her drawings are found in the collection of the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec and in private collections throughout Ontario, Québec, Switzerland, Germany and England. 

Ryan Stec is an artist, producer and designer working in both research and production. Interested in the cross sections of technology, creativity and the built environment, his most recent work is focused on interventions that redefine how we experience the city around us. He has been heavily involved in the artist-run culture of Ottawa since 1998; is currently the Artistic Director of Artengine, and is completing a professional masters degree at the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Carleton University.


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