Main Gallery

Francisca Duran:
Research garden: a compendium of lost moments

Curated by: Lesley loksi chan
Exhibition: October 27 - December 1, 2023
Opening Reception: Friday, November 10, 2023, 7–10 PM

Image Credit: Francisca Duran, film still from “compendium” (2023), 16mm phytogram film. Courtesy of the artist.

Francisca Duran: Research garden: a compendium of lost moments

curatorial statement

In Francisca Duran: Research garden: a compendium of lost moments, the experimental media artist takes her analog film practice away from the screen and creates a multisensory installation centred on plant-based images. Meticulous and dreamy, the interactive exhibition includes wiry film flower sculptures sprouting from local soil, cascading film test strips on a large light table, dangling digital prints of enlarged film fragments on walls, a collection of optic objects for our viewing pleasure, and in the midst of it all, a 16mm film projector plays on loop her most recent piece, Compendium (2023). Compendium is the original work from which most of the plant-based images in the space are derived. Full of lush shapes and vivid hues, the film loop was handcrafted by Duran using the techniques of phytography and optical printing. Phytograms are created by the exposure of black and white celluloid or photo-paper overlaid with plant material and dried in daylight. With this technique, plants are both the subject of phytograms and also provide the necessary chemistry to produce them. As Duran remarks, “It is part science, part cooking, part magic.”

Mapping and cataloguing over two years of her work with the plantlife of Kensington Market in Tkaranto where Duran has lived for decades, she sees these phytograms as forging an inquiry into inscription, translation and power. Duran’s previous work has also been concerned with what she describes as “the practical and critical human relationships with other-than-human-species.” With her film It Matters What (2019), she created a poetic manifesto based on Donna Haraway’s essay “Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene” using phytograms alongside in-camera animation, contact prints, text, voice and soundscape. Compendium, though, is soundless and wordless. The raw visuals bathe everything and everyone in the space and confront us in silence. Vibrant leaf-prints, fingerprints, scratches and tape marks on celluloid work with the various phytographic offspring to evoke human entanglements with nature. With every touch of the hand or lamplight, the phytograms are simultaneously illuminated and deteriorated. How are we to care for continual loss?

Duran’s exhibition and artistic practice raise questions about the meanings of iteration, archive, preservation and desire in a time of ecological crisis. Rather than providing clear answers, she offers an untidy compilation of analog and digital prints, maps, charts, and objects for handling, hearing, smelling and viewing so that we can experience a garden of loss as she has tended it. Haptic, optical, sensuous and philosophical, Research garden: a compendium of lost moments is an enticement to fumble in the dark by plantlight.

Lesley Loksi Chan, October 2023

Read Francisca Duran’s conversation with Lesley Loksi Chan here.


Francisca Duran is a Chilean-Canadian experimental media artist who creates films, video installations, and photo-based mixed-media work about history, memory, power and violence. Duran has exhibited internationally at film festivals and venues including Edinburgh International Film Festival, International Film Festival at Rotterdam, HotDocs, Arkipel, Anthology Film Archives, Los Angeles Film Forum, John Hansard Gallery and VideoPool. Duran holds an M.F.A. from York University and a B.A.H. from Queen’s University and continues to receive professional development through artist-run centres and mentorships with artists. Her practice has been supported by research, travel, and production grants from Canadian arts councils.

ABOUT THE curator

Lesley Loksi Chan is a multidisciplinary artist and artistic director of Centre[3] for Artistic and Social Practice. Her artwork is concerned with invisibility, believability and resistibility and has been exhibited internationally. As Centre[3]’s Artistic Director, she oversees exhibitions, residencies and arts-based projects with a focus on collaborative, experimental and anti-oppressive practices in contemporary art.

Phytogramming Workshop WITH FRANCISCA DURAN

Saturday, November 4, 2023 12-5PM
Location: Factory Media Centre, Hamilton

In this workshop, participants will collect samples of the curated and unwanted plants growing near Centre[3], then soak our plants in an organic developer and experiment with 16mm and 35mm film stock and photo paper for the rest of the afternoon. 

This exhibition is generously supported by