QUEENS TRIBUNE – MARCH 2007

March 9, 7:54 AM

Grizzly Proof Exhibit Comes To Flux Factory

Katerina Lanfranco’s bear diorama.


By JENNIFER POLLAND


Jean Barberis, the head curator at Flux Factory, was casually browsing through a thrift shop in Montreal when he stumbled on “a childish drawing of a grizzly bear fighting a robot.” Intrigued, he asked the clerk about the drawing. That led him to “Project Grizzly,” a film that illustrates one man’s quest to conquer nature.

Peter Lynch’s comedic documentary “Project Grizzly” tells the story of Troy Hurtubise, a man who survived a vicious attack by a grizzly bear in the Canadian Rockies, and embarked on an obsessive mission to create a “grizzly proof” suit of armor. The film shows Hurtubise testing his suit in various violent ways, with ramming trucks, flying logs and baseball bats. After a series of tests, Hurtubise heads back to grizzly country for an adventure that naturally ends in failure.

“The documentary is a really funny piece of film,” Barberis said. “It shows Troy as a type of Don Quixote figure, who is obsessed with finding a way to defeat nature, but, of course, he inevitably fails.”

“Project Grizzly” has grown into a huge phenomenon; it has even been parodied on “The Simpsons.” Barberis was so taken by the film that he decided to curate Grizzly Proof, an art exhibition at Flux Factory that is inspired by Lynch’s film. In this show, Barberis invited more than 20 artists from around the world to create their own responses to the documentary. Artists were asked to take on the age-old theme of man versus nature, which resulted in an eclectic and dynamic range of paintings, sculptures and multimedia artworks.

Katerina Lanfranco created a diorama-style sculptural installation that was inspired by the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History. In this 15-by-4-foot glass-encased installation, Lanfranco displays a 7-foot sculpture of a hybrid-bear – with a longer tail, horns and abnormal growths – in its “natural” habitat.

“This piece is a critique on us wanting to contain and control nature,” Lanfranco said. “Troy is obsessed with using super technology to retaliate against the grizzly bear. It almost becomes like a psychotic desire to control nature, and in the end it is a very pathetic and desperate mission.”

Barberis said that Lanfranco’s piece is “cartoonish” yet “scientific.” Lanfranco puts the artist in the position of scientist by “re-blending two aesthetics that are completely different,” Barberis said.

Like Lanfranco, each artist interprets “Project Grizzly” in his or her own way. The film’s director, Lynch, even created an installation for this exhibition: a multimedia installation that draws on humans’ fear of nature by recreating the threatening sounds of the wild.

“The film is interesting and inspiring, and I think that resonated with the artists,” Barberis said. “I think that it is a very fun and playful show. It’s sort of unique in that everyone is responding to a single object, and there is an enigmatic element about that.”

Grizzly Proof will run March 9 to April 12 at Flux Factory in LIC. The show will kick off Friday at 6:30 p.m. with a screening of “Project Grizzly,” followed by a Q & A session with director Peter Lynch at the New Center Cinema in Sunnyside. For more information call (718) 707-3362 or visit www.fluxfactory.org.