Thursday, November 11, 2010

Interview: Tim Burton's Art Retrospective Coming to Toronto

The massive Tim Burton art retrospective, which began its highly successful tour at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City last year, will make its third stop at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox. The exhibition will open at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on November 26th, and will remain until April 17th, 2011, when it leaves for Los Angeles.

Us Magazine had an interview with Noah Cowan
, the artistic director at the TIFF Bell Lightbox:

Q: First of all, tell Us about this marathon of movies called the “Burton Blitz.” It’s 36 hours, right? Sounds intense.
It starts with “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” at 6 PM on Friday November 26 and ends around 10 AM on Sunday November 28 with “Alice in Wonderland.” Not even a 10-minute break. I think the end credits is when you pee. Back to back to back. The concessions will be armed with lots of coffee and snacks to keep people going. We have people looking forward to it!

How many people do you expect at the Tim Burton show?
Our projections show about 100,000. But it got 275,000 visitors in Australia. And 700,000 in New York. We’re arming the barricades. Tourists from all over the world come to see it whereever it plays. I’m looking forward to the first day we let the public in. So they see how unique it is.

Why this director?
He speaks to our interest in how films and the visual arts interact. Through his sketches, you really understand him as an artist -- even better than you do watching the films. He’s a great example of a filmmaker whose background in visual arts has allowed him to expand what’s possible in the medium.

How will the show be different than the one that ran in NYC?
We are reorganizing it. MOMA followed the parameters of a drawing and painting show. It showed the development of his craft as a visual artist. But the TIFF Bell Lightbox is a film-based institution, so the principal arc of the show will follow his film career. We have a large side annex that allows you to go deeper into his creative genius. You enter the doors and go to the source of the genius. We’re calling that area “Burbank” because that’s where he was born. You see his creative genius flowing as he grew up in the suburbs of LA. His upbringing was really central to the originality of his art.

We see you’re doing some really fun double bills.
We’re pairing his movies with unexpected influences. Alice in Wonderland is paired with John Waters’ Desperate Living. Another is the 1963 Jason and the Argonauts and Burton’s James and the Giant Peach. It’s been really fun putting it together. Some are more obvious, too – like Nosferatu and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

You’ll have lots of activities and workshops for kids too, right?
Every Saturday while it runs, kids can participate in activities like creating their own Burton-inspired creatures, or dabbling in stop-motion animation. Kids will be able to watch a clip of The Nightmare Before Christmas and create their own Jack -- and their own story. The various floors will all have presentations and exhibitions and areas for kids. We want families to be able to engage in all those activities, see a film retrospective and engage in hands-on youth activities. We suspect this will be really popular around Christmas.

Finally, we hear Tim Burton’s creating something original for your window?
He’s creating a special Christmas monster for us. It’s loosely based on a character from an abandoned project. All we know is it’s going to be a creature and he’ll be devouring Christmas. We’re working with the Tim Burton studio now to see if he’ll keep munching through various holidays.


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- Matty