Ghost of Montreal Hippodrome probed in exhibition

The Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art presents Racetrack Superstar Ghost, a solo exhibition by Quebec artist Myriam Yates, curated by Scott McLeod. Composed of four related video installations, the show captures the shifting realities of the Hippodrome de Montréal—formerly one of the most important horseracing tracks in North America, now an overgrown and abandoned site. Yates uses this storied location to explore the multifaceted relationships between public and private space.
An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 5 from 7:00pm to 10:00pm at Prefix, located at Suite 124, 401 Richmond Street West in Toronto. The artist and curator will be present. The gallery is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 12:00 noon to 5:00pm, and admission is free. The exhibition continues until March 28, 2015.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Hippodrome de Montréal was one of the city’s main attractions. However, by the late 20th century, it had suffered a number of setbacks, including a dramatic loss of clientele to the newly opened Casino de Montréal. With her documentarian impulse and keen interest in issues relating to public space and Modernist architecture, Yates was drawn to the gradual transformations of this once-populated space. Over a span of seven years, she documented unique perspectives on the facility, both before and after its closure in 2009.
Occupants (2005), her first video work documenting the site, primarily focuses on the sports announcer and camera operator who viewed the races from an elevated observatory. At intervals, these scenes are contrasted with static shots of the vast, unoccupied spaces of the Hippodrome’s interior. Exhibited in a dual video installation format, this work employs strategies of mirroring and doubling to produce a fictive narrative out of an otherwise realist work.
The social history of the site is considered in the dual projection Amphithéâtre (2010). Filmed in wide-screen format, one component slowly tracks, from varying perspectives, the empty interior of the amphitheatre, while the second, in standard format, depicts the careful grooming of a horse after a race. This quiet, intimate moment contrasts with the vastness and austerity of the vacant space.
A Space Between Mirrors (2010) consists of a series of shots of the Hippodrome’s Le Centaure restaurant, a large area situated beside the stands overlooking the racetrack. Thoughtfully using the mirrors within the environment, the artist captures increasingly abstracted reflections, through formal play between the lens, mirrors and empty space.
Racetrack Superstar Ghost (2011), a single-channel video installation, documents the Hippodrome de Montréal when it became the site for a concert by Irish rock band U2. Unlike the gradual evolution of the Hippodrome itself—shaped over many decades by successive generations of Montrealers—a single iteration of U2’s world concert tour was parachuted into the community. The only possible relationship of the community’s members to the event was as consumers of an imported spectacle.

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