Art Seen: You Want to Go to Harbourfront
“Desire” is the unifying theme behind most of the ten art and craft exhibitions currently on view at the York Quay Centre down at Harbourfront.
In The Object(s) of Longing various artists present items that suggest nostalgia and yearning – Andrea Vander Kooij transforms an everyday fire extinguisher and hose into a uniquely appealing object by rendering it in plush fabric. Another group show lining the walls, Re-Collect showcases artists’ groupings of the collected objects that inform and comprise their work. These range from specimens found in nature, including Susan Coolen’s dead birds and Anne O’Callaghan’s thorns, to cultural artifacts like Andrew Hunter’s sock monkey and Kai Chan’s pottery, to obsessive lists of music (Stephanie Shepherd) and antique literary ephemera (Sylvia Ptak). This show will delight the artist and the collector alike.
Less of a display than an ongoing process, Material Overtures in the main gallery space at York Quay playfully subverts the traditionally passive consumption of art by demanding active participation from visitors. In his Studio – literally the artist’s workspace transplanted to the gallery – Sandy Plotnikoff provides button making and hot foil stamping services while creating collaged artworks with the leftover material. Anne Fauteux extends a related gesture with BOLM: Projet rafistolage/The Tinker Project in which the artist transforms herself into a one-woman fixing machine, aka “la Tinkerette,” providing repairs and alterations to random objects in a barter-based exchange.
Bring in your stuff on the weekend for Plotnikoff to stamp or Fauteux to tinker. And while you’re there, write a postcard for artist Corwyn Lund to hand-deliver on his anodized track bike. The striking red still sculpture transforms into a functional machine for couriering postcards to the downtown area every Monday.
Keeping in the collaborative vein, We Can Do This Now at the Power Plant is an exhibition that captures the diversity of Toronto’s art scene, including artists of different generations as well as some currently working outside of Toronto. One highlight is Luis Jacob’s installation of taxidermied pigeons, which in their migratory flight pattern are unmistakably redolent of Michael Snow’s famous Flightstop geese at the Eaton Centre. Upcoming panel discussions at the Power Plant, Making a Scene (January 27) and Creative Cities: Hype or Hope? (February 4), bring together various artists, curators, and scholars to consider the Toronto arts community in context of the current cultural climate.
Sandy Plotnikoff, Studio. Carlos Amorales, Useless Wonder.
Also at the Power Plant is Mexican-born artist Carlos Amorales’ Useless Wonder, a haunting dual-screen animation. Amorales combines images of dissolving continents, parasitic birds, ominous monkeys, and ambiguous silhouetted figures all set to dark spectral music to create an atmosphere that seems both primordial and apocalyptic and, well, kind of scary. In a more light-hearted contrast, Aleksandra Mir’s Organized Movement – A Video Diary records the artist’s experience learning to dance in Mexico City. Like Mir’s self-produced print biographies of various (non-famous) individuals, the film instantly transports the viewer to a new life and a different culture.
As with We Can Do This Now and the various shows at York Quay, the piece melds the artist’s process with the viewer’s experience, breaking down the traditional object-viewer dynamic which, it can be argued, leaves something to be desired.
York Quay Centre Exhibitions run until March 11, 2007. The Power Plant’s exhibitions run until February 9, 2007.
Luis Jacob, From Stream to Golden Stream, 2006 (Power Plant installation view). Photo by Rafael Goldchain. Sandy Plotnikoff, Studio, 2007. Courtesy of the artist. Carlos Amorales, Useless Wonder, 2006. Courtesy of the artist and Yvon Lambert New York/Paris.