Now Open: Greater Toronto Art 2024, March 22–July 28.

Jon Rafman


March 28, 2020
–April 10, 2020

Jon Rafman, SHADOWBANNED (film still), 2018.

The second Shift Key offering is SHADOWBANNED (2018) by Montreal-based artist Jon RafmanSHADOWBANNED combines the aesthetics of internet conspiracy theories, video game footage and a CG recreation of the garden of Bomarzo, to tell the story of an anonymous narrator on an enigmatic journey. The film unfolds across multiple universes wherein dreams are recycled waste products and meaning has been all but lost. The narrator arms himself with artificial memories of artificial pasts in order to protect himself from the future. The work is a meditation on the perception of history and the implosion of meaning in our hyper-accelerated times.

MOCA is working with Jon on an exhibition scheduled for 2021 and thanks him for sharing this work with us at this time.

Recommended Age: Grade 10 and up

Watch SHADOWBANNED with a friend (in person or over video chat) and use the guiding questions below to start a discussion about the film:

  • The narrator reads what sounds like a letter to someone in the future. Who do you think they are writing to?
  • Imagine if this film was the introduction scene to a new video game.
    • What would the video game be about?
    • What year is it?
    • Are we on Earth? In Space?
    • What happened? Where have the other humans gone?
    • What is your mission?
  • The narrator says, “Life as I knew it has ended but I’m still trying to understand what has replaced it.”
    • What do you think he is referring to?
    • What has ended and what has become the replacement?
  • If you could ask the artist a question about the piece, what would you like to know?

Past Shift Key Programmes

A still from Cecilia Vicuña "Paracas" (1983)
Cecilia Vicuña
A Still from Cauleen Smith "Pilgrim" (2017)
Cauleen Smith
Mona Hatoum
Aura Satz
Preemptive Listening (Part 1: The Fork in the Road)