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The Lab

The story of Niagara Custom Lab dates to some time in the mid-90s, when the filmmaker Sebastjan Henrickson opened a film lab for artists on Niagara Street in Toronto. Niagara would process celluloid in ways no other lab would, treating it like the most versatile of artists’ mediums: a canvas coated in chemistry.”

Kate Addleman-Frankel, Curator
Bright Lights Dark City:
Niagara Custom Lab and Toronto Experimental Film

The Lab documents Niagara Custom Lab—a boutique motion-picture-film processing lab in Toronto—through still lifes of the lab’s profusely and anarchically decorated workspace. The last lab of its kind in North America, Niagara Custom Lab has been a vital resource for independent filmmakers in Canada and internationally since they opened in the early 1990s. Even as large commercial labs close their doors, Niagara Custom Lab remains proudly and stubbornly committed to film, a position requiring a MacGyver-like resourcefulness and firm belief in film’s unique alchemical properties that is reflected in the artful visual pandemonium of its own workspaces. This series, one of Toronto Life magazine’s top picks in its coverage of the 2015 Contact Photography Festival, captures the lab’s vibrance and its force of will to survive as it soldiers on for film in the midst of major cultural, chemical and technological change.