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Owen Pallett Selects Iris Fraser-Gudrunas

The daring Toronto filmmaker known for her horse meat dinners, nude-coloured picnics and cataloging of exes

The musical composer and multi-instrumentalist who worked under the name Final Fantasy, Owen Pallett, selects the adventurous filmmaker in the March Issue of Dazed & Confused: “I’ve known Iris since she was a small-town teenager. Her film work explores the same adaptability, transience and change I’ve seen in her person. With Brother Frank, Iris captured the esprit of Toronto’s beautiful/bullshit cultural scene and an artist’s bittersweet relationship to it.”

Toronto-based artist and filmmaker Iris Fraser-Gudrunas laughs when she remembers the phone calls she made tracking down her old lovers for Every Man I Ever. The ongoing photo series may be a round-up of her ex-shags, but she’s more interested in commenting on female desire than bragging about her sexual exploits. “There’s this idea that women have to keep hush-hush about how many men they’ve slept with,” she says. “The female gaze has become increasingly present through homoeroticism, but when I’m like, ‘Yes, I like looking at men. No big deal, right?’, all my male friends get a little weird.”

The 28-year-old artist isn’t scared of venturing into delicate territory; for “Nude Coloured Clothing Picnic”, everything from the attendees’ clothes to the balloons, food and hairless pets was flesh-coloured, while “Horse Dinner” was a dinner party in a gallery at which horse steaks were served. “As people were finishing their meal, we stood up and started whipping their plates at this pile of cement in the corner,” she remembers, giggling. “There were shards of porcelain flying everywhere. Everyone just lost it in a fit of gallery rage. Maybe it was the horse meat?”

Fraser-Gudrunas’s first feature is Brother Frank, the story of a young urbanite who heads for the rural backwoods and bonds with an 85-year-old monk over a shared love of craft and music. That contention between rural and urban is mirrored in her own life – she grew up in the countryside in Ontario, the daughter of craftsmen. “It was this under-the-poverty-line art-life. It was wonderful in many aspects but it’s hard when you’re a total weirdo in a normal school in a small town.”

While the scope of Fraser-Gudrunas’s work is disparate, she insists there’s an underlying connection. “The biggest thing for me is identifying ways in which people relate to each other.” Toronto’s insular and close-knit art-scene makes it easy to find willing participants. “There’s a really strong community of tongue-in-cheek contemporary art here,” she says. “We all hang out and our projects all involve each other so by proxy it’s become pretty influential.”

Photography Dimitri Karakostas