Dreamlike and shot on Super 16mm, Camille Rojas’ film The Whistler explores behaviour modification through an examination of human-canine relationships. The vacant and ominous architecture of the R.C. Harris water treatment plant sets the stage for the film, where the artist and her dog hold their own conformation show. Rojas and her companion fluidly interact with the architecture and the sound of a distant, commanding, and whimsical whistle. The artist acts as both master and canine; her repetitive gestures are modified to perfection, as the dog mimics. They pose, walk, waltz, display their bodies, and show off their teeth.
The capitulations of conditioning and conformity found in the film are further elaborated throughout the gallery space. Three photographs appear in repetition on the gallery walls, while an abundance of miniature dogs—sculpted by the artist from a flesh-coloured material—are stacked into a mound on the floor. The reoccurring actions found throughout Rojas’ works reflect the complex relationship between pet and owner. Their shared intimacy speaks to a deep human-animal connection, while their postulations serve as wider visual tropes for the artist’s investigation into notions of display and conformity.
The artist would like to thank Paul Couillard, LIFT, Frame Discreet and Niagara Custom Lab.