O'Born Contemporary


Road Movie

Public Studio, Solo Exhibition

September 8 – September 18, 2011


Artists' Talks:
Sunday, September 11, 2 – 4 PM
Sunday, September 18, 2 – 4 PM


Presented on three, double-sided walls and comprised of a series of short films, Elle Flanders and Tamira Sawatzky's powerful and beautifully nuanced installation, Road Movie, examines contemporary life in Palestine. Palestinians living in the West Bank are confronted with a segregated and impossible road system made all the more problematic and unpredictable by shifting political currents. The subjects of the films, from Palestinian ambulance and taxi drivers to Israeli settlers and human-rights activists (who were all filmed while Flanders and Sawatzky traveled the segregated roads) offer a unique and unconventional glimpse into the human landscape of this volatile land. Filmed in stop-motion animation, with a screen set-up suggesting the foreboding wall surrounding Palestine, Road Movie is full of arresting and vibrant images, from the deserts of the Jordan Valley to the circumference of Jerusalem. The piece serves as an elegy for people and places that are rarely seen and heard. And for those who no longer see one another.          - Steve Gravestock, Associate Director,Canadian Programming, Toronto International Film Festival.

artist statement

As artists we are interested in reflecting the complexity of our current world by looking at how political strife shapes people's lives and transfiguring that into intimate and nuanced gestures that can reshape our preconceptions. Our recent work looks at both the fragility and violence that is emerging in protests and political discord the world over. We work in film, film and sound installation, web projects, photography and architecture to capture in frames some of the moments we have witnessed and have, in turn, attempted to reveal.

In 2009, we went to live in Palestine for a year in order to get a better understanding of the situation on the ground. Flanders, who was raised in Jerusalem, felt that in order to really connect with people and daily life, she needed to live inside Palestine, not just visit. Sawatzky had become interested in the architectural aspects of life under Occupation and together they decided to make a film that looked from the inside out. While much work exists about all aspects of this particular conflict, we approached this from another dimension– we take you, the viewer, into the landscape, into the land in meticulous detail, and allow you to move around in an installation, to give you an immersive and contemplative experience. We shot our films in stop-motion animation, a technique that allowed us to capture, frame by frame, the minutia of this often over-exposed place. Like surveyors, we track the land step by step, taking you with us into each frame.


Road Movie TIFF Future Projections Programme Public Studio (Elle Flanders & Tamira Sawatzky)

about the artists

Elle Flanders (director) is an award-winning filmmaker and artist based in Toronto. She was raised in Montreal and Jerusalem and holds both an MA in Critical Theory and an MFA from Rutgers University. Her work has been exhibited at museums and festivals internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Berlin International Film Festival. Together with Tamira Sawatzky she founded Public Studio, with recent works including: Kino Pravda 3G, a multi-channel video installation, and What Isn't There, a photo installation. She directed the award-winning feature documentary Zero Degrees of Separation, which has screened worldwide and has been broadcast on the Sundance Channel, the Documentary Channel and MTV. Flanders is a PhD candidate in the Visual Arts Studio Program at York University, where she also teaches.

Tamira Sawatzky (director) is an award-winning architect and artist working in Toronto. In addition to an ongoing architectural practice, her recent art work includes: Kino Pravda 3G, a video installation; What Isn't There, a photo installation; and Road Shots, a series of still photographs. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the Art Gallery at York University (AGYU) and Flux Factory in New York.

Public Studio, Road Movie Trailer, 2011