TIFF: David Cronenberg: Evolution
David Cronenberg: Evolution was a comprehensive retrospective and travelling exhibition on this provocative filmmaker. Inaugurated at the Toronto International Film Festival, the exhibition traveled to five European cities.
- TIFF Bell Lightbox
- David Cronenberg: Evolution
- 5,000 sq. ft.
- Exhibit Design, Graphic Design
- N. America + Europe
- Year Completed
R&P was asked to design an immersive exhibition experience, taking visitors into the dark mind of one of today’s most audacious, challenging film directors. The installation was organized into several parts: A complete film retrospective featuring props and archival documents; a multi-media installation featuring interviews with Cronenberg throughout his career; an installation featuring a short film created for the exhibition; and an experimental biomorphic laboratory-like space. Geared towards Cronenberg fans, the exhibit was to appeal to visitors unfamiliar with his work. Set in a modest exhibition space, the collection needed to be presented chronologically yet revealed in unexpected ways, befitting the character of the filmmaker. This was the first major original exhibition inaugurated in house by TIFF. The budget was very limited and was to be built and packaged for travel in part by TIFF staff.
The design was conceived as a symbolic journey, exploring the dark, provocative mind of David Cronenberg. The centre of the exhibition was the metaphoric brainstem of the filmmaker, a curvilinear synaptic media installation featuring video clips of dozens of interviews designed as a cascade playing in sequence across a panoptic array of screens. Visitors enter the very centre of the exhibit, conceived as the brain’s inner chamber. This central space was a stylized media installation of screens made of abstract, stretched fabric featuring clips of Cronenberg throughout his career, describing his evolution as a filmmaker.
Around the outside perimeter of the media theater, along the surface of his ‘brain’ was a curved set of blood red platforms that hosted a huge array of the most famous and iconic props from his most notorious films including The Fly, Dead Ringers, Spider, Eastern Promises and A Dangerous Method. Major props and artworks that have figured prominently in his films were dramatically presented around the red curvilinear platform. As visitors moved along the perimeter of the platform, they encountered many of these iconic and terrifying objects. Each were placed in film-context with large images, media screens and vignettes providing the context of each film.
At the very perimeter of the gallery were the archival and promotional materials associated with his films, presented in an encyclopedic chronology that gave visitors a behind-the-scenes perspective on his creative process through scripts, storyboards, and detailed documentation.
Finally, in an adjacent gallery, a life-sized Mugwump was installed. The visceral creature from the film Naked Lunch lounged at a bar, waiting for a visitor to join in a drink (and a photo op). It was a perfectly terrifying and delicious evocation of a Cronenberg moment.
- The exhibition of his work is extraordinary! I’ve never seen an exhibition of such depth and variety for a film director. What’s down at TIFF is extraordinary!Jeremy Irons
CP24 interview w. Stephen Ledrew
October 31st 2013
In the words of David Cronenberg:
“It’s incredibly touching to me… It is really so intelligently and carefully, and even I say, affectionately constructed to show the relationship amongst the films and my own life.”
Provocative, unique and challenging, David Cronenberg: Evolution was hugely successful for TIFF as the bold design garnered significant media attention. The project created a comprehensive installation underscoring, advancing the place of TIFF as scholars and preservers of important Canadian film history.
Working closely with TIFF during the development of the project, the archival props and documents were actively acquired throughout the design and fabrication. The design team needed to be highly flexible to maintain chronology while incorporating new and unexpected artifacts, some acquired mere days days before opening. The resulting show was exceptionally comprehensive, with an unparalleled volume of objects for a project of this scale.