With Spiral, Etrog’s only film, the artist stretched his creative capacities once more. The half-hour long, black-and-white film explores a man’s journey from birth to death through a nonlinear narrative and powerful visual imagery.
Inspired by European avant-garde cinema and set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto no. 1, Spiral explores themes essential to Etrog’s body of work as a whole: the tensions and struggles which define human’s existence. But for Etrog these are not strict oppositions, but elements positioned on the same spiral line. The title of the film and its main visual motif describe one’s path from birth to death not as a linear journey but as a meandering and nonsequential experience.
To Etrog, the form of the spiral - unlike the circle or the line - collapses past, present and future; and indeed Etrog juxtaposes the moment of birth with an open-heart surgery, and positions a pram next to a coffin.
Spiral was first shown on the CBC television program Sprockets in 1975. Following a screening of Spiral at the University of Toronto’s Centre of Culture and Technology, Etrog’s friend, the renowned media theorist, Marshall McLuhan, suggested to Etrog that they collaborate. The result is a book, comprised of images from Spiral which Etrog selected and quotations from modernist writers selected by McLuhan, and results in a collage of words and images that functions as a conversation between these two giants.
The streaming of Spiral is only available to registered members of www.soreletrog.com - the official website of The Estate of Sorel Etrog.
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The Estate of Sorel Etrog would like to thank the Art Gallery of Ontario for creating the digital version of Spiral from the original film reel.