If Brains Were Dynamite

The Sculpture of Mark Prent

Hanging like hindquarters in a meat freezer, bloody butchered human torsos and limbs simultaneously rivet and repel viewers of this film's opening footage. Mark Prent is a Canadian artist whose exhibitions always provoke outrage and have resulted in violent reactions and trials for obscenity. They also reveal the latent sadism of a certain section of the public - his Man Strapped in an Electric Chair could be 'executed' by pulling a handle to activate the chair, and Canadians were ready to queue for two hours to take a turn. The film illustrates this, but it allows us to enter into the artist's work and understand its personal implications: all these bodies are his own and have been cast in resin during a molding session which comes close to torture. They are then brought to life with frightening, painstaking care and accuracy, painted, given hair or a glass eye.

Mark Prent has the support of his father and his wife, but in the absence of buyers he has gone into exile in Berlin. The film examines the relationship between aesthetic and ethical qualities, the Jewish memory, and individual complicity in power and in sadism.


'...provides an interesting look at the creative process, and it is also timely in its presentation of the question of government support for controversial, other-than-mainstream art. The technical quality is very good. Recommended for art library collections and for library media collections dealing with social issues.' Video Rating Guide for Libraries, USA


Directors: Peter Bors: Thom Burstyn

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Catalog number #637

28 minutes Color

Age Range: 18 to Adult

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48hr Streaming Access

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