Wednesday, February 12, 2020 (7:30pm)
5213 Grays Ave. Rm. 228
Upon his ascension to Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau summarized his approach to governance as “reason over passion.” In the hands of Joyce Wieland, this phrase was transformed first into a series of colorful quilts and then into this, her first feature length film. Intended to reflect his steady hand, to Wieland Trudeau’s catch phrase smacked of psychopathy. For her part, Wieland desired reason and passion in equal measure.
To serve as an artistic counterbalance, Wieland’s film acts as passion over reason, combining genuine hope for the future of Canada under Trudeau with an ironic detachment from traditional nationalism. Reason Over Passion contains 537 computer-generated permutations of the letters of Trudeau’s quotation superimposed over, for the most part, landscapes in rough geographic sequence across Canada. But the film is not solely travelogue, with multiple digressions including footage of Trudeau taken by Wieland at the Liberal Party Convention and Wieland herself attempting to mouth the words to “O, Canada!”
Both propaganda and anti-propaganda, Wieland takes national symbols—the land, the flag, the anthem, and the great man—and formally disrupts them, breaking down the meaning of Trudeau’s words and distorting her footage through grainy rephotography. Reason Over Passion is both an ode to Canada and an example of the individual idiosyncrasy that makes nationalist unity unachievable.