Lisa Steele

Artist, Activist, Curator, Adminsitrator, Teacher

Artists, activists, curators, arts administrators, teachers. Honorary queer couple Steele and Tomczak, were founders of the Toronto media arts centre VTape, one of Canada’s primary disseminators of queer video, and together constituted thereafter one of the forces of Canadian video art as well as unflinching champions of queer culture and the fight against censorship. Their own queerest video is undoubtedly Legal Memory (1992, 80), an underappreciated feature-length docu-fiction about an unremembered incident in Canadian history that is at the intersection of queer desire and community, the law and social control. Leo Mantha was one of the last people to have been executed in Canada, in 1959 for the murder of his boyfriend on a naval base near Victoria. Steele and Tomczak tell Mantha’s history through a riveting present-day investigative narrative probing legal culture, collective memory, and gay community. Tomczak plays Mantha as a hottie in a white T-shirt; Steele plays a contemporary journalist, and has also performed in queer videotapes by such artists as Colin Campbell and John Greyson.