Please Don’t Talk to the Lifeguard 13:38 1981 b/w
In a mythical place at a specific time, beauty is obliterated and ghosts are all that remain. Haunted by memory, pain and utter loss, an inner voice commands and deceives to maintain some warped balance where none is possible. Here a lifeguard strives to find normalcy, simple actions fail under extreme duress, ultimate sorrow ensues.
In no way related to the pop song of the same name (Diane Ray, #31 1963) our video Please Don’t Talk to the Lifeguard or, simply Lifeguard, evolved during its production. At the time, Linda had opened IF… to which she devoted her days, evenings and energy so her involvement with this was limited. The basic idea was mine and grew out of Post Nuclear Primitivism. It was shot in three different environments, all of them under the aegis of Plug-In.
First we selected a lifeguard by placing a small ad in the classifieds. Of the three men who auditioned, we selected Bruce Mitchell for the role. At the time, Bruce was a student of the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers, extremely photogenic and had an unusual presence. His charisma is evident but I wasn’t completely successful capturing Bruce’s mystique. Bruce became a professional dancer and choreographer, moved toToronto and died in the early 1990s. The Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers offer a bursary program in Bruce’s name.
Artist Terry Hays had an installation at Plug-In at the time in which he built a room inside the gallery and covered its interior completely with fabric. The floor, walls, pillars and ceiling were tufted, wrapped and spread with various coloured fabrics. One reviewer said it felt as if he’d “been deposited inside a huge Charlie Brown sweater.” An elegant wooden path lined with chaser lights ran through his room. It felt like a perfect environment to shoot some of Lifeguard so with Terry’s permission, I went ahead and used his wild “set.”
Other scenes were shot outside Terry’s installation in the white gallery space and the final sections were shot at Plug-In’s new location across Main Street on McDermot Avenue. This was before the gallery was set up and just as it appeared when rented with stacks of wood and rubbish all around, a perfect location for the conclusion of Lifeguard.
The DickTool Co All-Night Show premiered Lifeguard. Its first gallery showing was at Plug-In Gallery Dec 9 to 13, 1981 then at Metro Media Vancouver June 25, 1982.