My Visit to David Cronenberg: Evolution

cronenbergevolution Today marked the start of TIFF’s new exhibition about Canadian director David Cronenberg and I wasted no time in going to the Bell Lightbox to check it out.  I consider myself to be a big fan of Cronenberg and I even took an entire course about his films, when I was studying film studies at York University.  As such, I can confidently say that I haven’t been as excited for a TIFF exhibition since the Tim Burton exhibition, which was the Bell Lightbox’s very first exhibition back in 2010.  David Cronenberg: Evolution is also notable for being the first exhibition held at the Bell Lightbox, which has been fully curated by TIFF, and it will be going on a worldwide tour after it leaves the Lightbox. David Cronenberg: Evolution is curated in a circular fashion and divides Cronenberg’s career into three different periods:

  • WHO IS MY CREATOR? – This section features Cronenberg’s early films from Stereo to Videodrome
  • WHO AM I? – This section features many of the films Cronenberg is most known for, ranging from Dead Zone to eXistenZ
  • WHO ARE WE? – This section features Cronenberg’s modern films, ranging from Spider to Cosmopolis

The gallery is typically organized so that storyboards and other paper documents can be seen on one wall, while various props from Cronenberg’s films are along the middle wall.  The main highlight for me was definitely the fullsized telepod prop from The Fly, which is the largest prop featured in the exhibition.  Other props include the helmet from Videodrome, the surgical tools from Dead Ringers, and the leg braces from Crash.  There was also a quite a few of the weird props from Cronenberg’s 1999 film eXistenZ, which was enough to make me want to rewatch the film.  Sadly, there were only minimal props in third section of the exhibition, which seemed to mostly consist of various watches and the costumes worn in A Dangerous Method. 3B011-46062 On of the biggest highlights of the exhibition was an entire room dedicated to Cronenberg’s 1991 film Naked Lunch, which was widely considered to be Cronenberg’s dream project.  This area features the most props, dedicated to a single film, in the exhibition, including all the weird typewriters used in the film.  There’s also a statue of, the film’s signature creature, the Mugwump sitting by a bar set, where you can have a set of souvenir photos taken and e-mailed to you. In the middle of the exhibition is a small screening area, which features interview clips with Cronenberg, taken at various points in his career.  There is another screening area in a partition immediately outside the gallery, which played a series of short films Cronenberg has produced, including Camera (produced for the 25th anniversary of TIFF in 2000) and At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World (produced in 2007 for the anthology To Each His Own Cinema, which celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Cannes film festival).  There was also a third short, created exclusively for the exhibition, called The Nest, which featured the first person perspective of a doctor (played by Cronenberg), who is talking to a (topless) woman about to get a breast surgery (for a very weird reason). I have to admit that this was the most awkward of the shorts to sit and watch in a public place. Overall, I would say that I quite enjoyed the David Cronenberg: Evolution exhibition and I look forward to the other aspects of TIFF’s Cronenberg Project, including the film retrospective and the interactive Body Mind Change experience.

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).