Like a Dream that Vanishes: Films by Barbara Sternberg

In collaboration with the Department of Visual Arts & Artlab Gallery at Western University, LOMAA welcomes Toronto-based filmmaker Barbara Sternberg to introduce and discuss a selection of her 16mm films spanning the past two decades.

6pm: artist talk
7pm: screening

$5 admission (no one turned away)
presented on 16mm film


Like a Dream that Vanishes
Barbara Sternberg | Canada | 1999 |colour | sound | 41 minutes

Like a Dream That Vanishes continues my work in film both thematically and formally: the ephemerality of life echoed in the temporal nature of film, the stuff of life in the emulsion, and the energy, life-force in rhythmic light pulses. (Your life is like a candle burning…) Imageless emulsion is intercut with brief shots of natural elements and mise-en-scene of the stages of human life: a little boy runs and falls; teens hang out together at night smoking; sun shines through tree branches; men pace, waiting; flashes of lightning; an elderly man speaks philosophically about miracles. The movement between form and formlessness, appearing and withdrawing, creation and dissolution (death) are felt. The film image, as the reality behind it, is not quite graspable. (B.St)

The film will be preceded by:

Far From
Barbara Sternberg | Canada | 2014|colour | sound | 17 minutes

The images that constitute our memory tend to rigidify into spectres in the course of their (collective and individual) historical transmission. Hence the task is to bring them to life.” – Giorgio Agamben, “Nymphs”

Constructed with repetitions and variations, in reference to the musical form of a Nocturne, Far From is an accumulation of layers, a density of living, the noise of existence. Ghosts of lives lived and traces of lives being lived, rising. (B.St)


Toronto-based filmmaker Barbara Sternberg has been making films since the mid 1970s. Her films have been screened widely across Canada as well as internationally at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, Kino Arsenal in Berlin, The Museum of Modern Art and Millennium Workshop in New York, and the Cinematheque Ontario in Toronto. Her work is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada. She has been a visiting artist at a number of Canadian universities and galleries and in 2011, Sternberg was made a Laureate of the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

Sternberg’s film work combines reflections on the medium itself with social issues and universal questions of how we experience reality, how we as humans are situated in the world. Films are themselves experiences, realities. Her films work at the intersection of film and life – questions of vision, perception, motion and temporality. Although her main practice is film, Sternberg has worked in other media including performance, installation and video.

Sternberg has been active in a number of fronts in Toronto, teaching at York University, working for Canadian Filmmakers’ Distribution Centre, serving on Toronto and Ontario Arts Council juries and committees, helping to organize the International Experimental Film Congress (May 1989), and was a founding member of Pleasure Dome, artists’ film and video exhibition group. She wrote a handbook and conducted workshops on Media Literacy for high school teachers. She recently organized the “Association for Film Art” (AFFA) to actively support and promote awareness and appreciation of film art. While living in the Maritimes, Sternberg co-founded Struts, an artist-run centre in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Sternberg wrote a column, “On (experimental) Film” for several years for Cinema Canada, and has written essays on artists and on filmmakers. As well, she has written on the status of film art in galleries and museums—an issue on which she has conducted symposia and lobbied vigorously.


Located in John Labatt Visual Arts Centre at Western University, the Artlab Gallery is a vital part of the Department of Visual Arts. The Gallery is focused on projects that involve and respond to social and cultural issues, primarily supporting the research and practice of students and faculty. Each year approximately 14 projects and events are presented, exploring conceptual and experimental production that includes a wide range of mediums.

LOMAA wishes to thank the London Arts Council‘s Community Arts Investment Program for their support of this program, as well as Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council for their continued backing.

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