Walter / Leaves, 2002 (excerpt)
Running time: continuous loop / SD / colour

Reflections of moving leaves are projected onto Walter’s face through a glass window. This effect is not a digital manipulation; it is a truthful depiction of a simple reflection. Walter, a 97 year old man is in a state of sleep/awakening. It was in a fleeting instant that I caught this image, as I was about to enter Walter’s house. Often one does not see what is in front of them; at other times we seize the moment.

Camera: Sylvia Safdie
Editing: Brigitte Dajzcer, Sylvia Safdie
Audio: Silent

“Walter’s stillness is in contrast with the balletic grace of the wind-tossed leaves. This juxtaposition gives added dimension to Safdie’s portrait-of-the-moment. The timing of the man’s breath, the passing of his life, occurs at a regular pace in small measured moments, unlike the random waves of the leaves. In this work, Safdie brings the viewer to an intimate engagement with another person’s perception, appropriately glimpsed through the veil of nature’s passing.

Her (Sylvia Sadie’s) work leads us to ponder issues of permanence, of absence and presence. In the modern world many people live nomadic lives, disconnected from the land of their origin and from the sense of living real time Walter/Leaves is a meditation, a touchstone, grounding the viewer in a non-verbal understanding of place and being.”

-Stuart Reid, from the essay “Time’s Betrayal: On Walter/Leaves”, Catalogue: “Sylvia Safdie, the Inventories of Invention” 2003, pg. 53.

This video was first shown at the exhibition Extensions at the Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario, and at the exhibition Extensions, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario in 2002. Since then, it has been shown at several other venues.