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Suitcase Room, Installation view

Morse Code Room, Installation view
Morse Code Room (Detail)
ASCII portrait in gallery entrance (Detail)
ASCII portrait of Violette Szabo
Nina Levitt: Little Breeze
November 11 - December 19, 2004

Opening: November 11, 2004, 6-9 pm
Free bus departs 401 Richmond Street West at 6 pm and returns from UTSC at 9 pm

Artist Talk: November 22, 2005, 7 pm

Essay by Kim Simon

On the occasion of Remembrance Day, Doris McCarthy Gallery proudly presents the opening of Little Breeze, an interactive installation by Toronto artist Nina Levitt. A complex piece that examines the ephemeral presence of women spies during World War II, Little Breeze invites us to remember the experiences of women whose contributions to the war effort might seem inconsequential, rather than such notorious female agents like Mata Hari or the fictional “James Bond” femme fatales. The work centers on one such spy, British agent Violette Szabo, code named “Louise” who at the age of 23 was sent into Occupied France for two missions, and was captured and executed just a few months before the end of the war.

Working with both WWII archival sources and material from popular culture Levitt engages us in active remembrance, encouraging viewers to become participants in the gathering of audio information and the decoding of video images. The installation features vintage suitcases embedded with audio speakers and electronics, and a large video projection controlled by a computer running interactive software. Originally produced in 2001, Little Breeze now includes an audio room through which one pieces together the biographies of several WWII women spies and a new site specific element developed for the vitrines at Doris McCarthy Gallery.

Little Breeze was first produced in 2001 for the exhibition “Finding Camp X: Contemporary Considerations of an Enigma” at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa. Produced with funding from The Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, the Faculty of Communication & Design at Ryerson University, and a Co-Production of the Banff Centre, Banff Alberta.

BIOGRAPHY

Nina Levitt is an artist working in photography, video and new media. Her work examines the marginalization of women in popular culture and often relies on the recovery and manipulation of existing images. Her work has shown across Canada and in the US and the UK and has been widely published and reviewed. Recent shows include “The Uncanny: Experiments in Cyborg Culture”, (Vancouver Art Gallery 2001-2003 and “Finding Camp X: Contemporary Considerations of an Enigma”, (Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, 2002).