Off Course: An evening of beginnings, b-rolls and half-baked ideas: The Films Of Sue Johnson

Saturday January 26, 9:00pm


Where this program begins and ends could not be farther apart – though the trope of the road movie with its dashboards, traveling pans, and window-framed shots persist in transgressive ways.
We begin in a familiar cinematic space for Super 8: on a road-trip in California, descending from the mountain range of Mt. Shasta to the streets of San Francisco, before cutting to Venice Beach, followed by a frothy ocean shoreline. But there are signposts sprinkled early on in the program that we are being guided off-course into playful devi- ance. Something is askew; the filmmaker is amusingly maneuvering conventions through film genres, gender norms, politics, and pop culture.
The works in this program venture off route into queer/feminist/sub- versive cinematic worlds not found on most major maps.
Welcome to a queer off-road adventure.

Sue Johnson has been creating art and performing work for over fifteen years. As an emerging artist, Johnson immersed herself in Atlantic Canadian artist-run centre culture and the world of artist-driv- en independent film and video – an aesthetic and methodology that still informs much of her practice. At times, Johnson’s work carries the same playful, quirky, performative, and humorous East Coast sensibil- ity of other Atlantic Canadian artists, which can be seen in the early work of Siobhan Devine or Rick Hancox.

But playful meets political in the ways that Johnson’s work engages with feminist and queer subject matter, particularly in the way she leans hard into examining gender identity, expectations, and perfor- mance. Taking up these issues in a small gauge film format is all the more poignant due to 8mm and Super 8’s long-standing relationship with the heteronormative world of the nuclear family through home movies and travelogues, in addition to the experimental male gaze that these gauges have been steeped in since their emergence.

Johnson experiments in a wide-range of traditional modes of address, but whatever the form, what unfolds in front of her camera is a queer vernacular of the reality (and fantasies) around her.


Curated by Aimée Mitchell, with live musical accompaniment by Scott Hardware

Into the Valley/Shoreline
2003 / super 8 / sound / 5:00
A California road trip from the mountains to the coast.

Anima Casa
2015 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
Shot in San Isidro de Malapec, Mexico during a Videofag artist residency.

2017 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
A leisurely romp through some of Toronto’s downtown occult and psychic shops.

Washington Women’s March
2017 / super 8 / sound / 2:30.
2.6 million women and allies rally in downtown Washington, D.C. to march in protest of the election of he who shall not be named.

How Was Slayer?
2004 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
Thumbs up, or thumbs down? 1980s thrash metal lives on.

2006 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
An homage to the Queen of Grunge.

My Sister’s Ex-Boyfriend
2007 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
Gyrating hips and hyper-masculine swagger. You can tell that this guy was a real catch.

West Beach
2008 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
Beach cruising leads to a harmonious match.

Cassandra Gets a Tattoo
2017 / super 8 / sound / 3:30
A trip to Kensington Market for ink.

Big Jody Mufferaw and The Island Rumble
2017 / super 8 / sound / 5:00
An evening out on the Toronto Islands with the League of Lady Wrestlers. Don’t mess with Big Jody Mufferaw – she’ll mess you up.

Rat Rod Reversed
2016 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
A modern-day version of Kenneth Anger’s Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), this short takes homoerotic muscle-car-play to the next level.

Valentine’s Day
Bella Giancotta and Sue Johnson
2017 / super 8 / sound / 2:30
Valentine’s Day captures the process of getting ready for an exciting night through documenting a rarely-seen yet somewhat common ritual.

Buy This Truck
Bella Giancotta and Sue Johnson
2019 / super 8 / sound / 7:00
1989 Mazda B2200 for sale. Purrs like a dream. Surprisingly low mileage. Versatile. Roomy cabin for all your self-care needs. Lots of storage for your sex toys. Serious buyers only.