Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekend highlights: Nuit Blanche, TIAF & UpArt

Toronto's mayorally designated "Art Week" is almost over. There was really much to much for any one person to take in, but here's a few personal highlights.

For Nuit Blanche, I really enjoyed Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace billboard and Wish Trees, Barr Gilmore's Honest sign, Rita McKeough's oil pumps, Daniel Olson's spotlight tower, CARFAC's political campaigning, Jon Sasaki's bizzarro mascots and most important, the general mood of excitement and enthusiasm that pervaded the event.

Less enjoyable was a lack of signage, some long walking distances downtown, and long waits for streetcars. You can read more opinions--with pictures-- at, BlogTO, Torontoist, and Sally & LM. I also filed a news report on the event, published in today's National Post.

At the Toronto International Art Fair, which remains open today to 6pm, I really dug Other Editions, a collaboration between Paul Butler's roving Other Gallery and Winnipeg printmaking workshop Martha Street Studios. Other Editions works with various artists on some lovely folios. A recent edition with the Royal Art Lodge--"All the Books I have Ever read"--is great. I was less impressed by Other Gallery's actual display, which seems to hinge on collaborator Guy Maddin's fame and fortune.

Ron Tran at Vancouver's Lawrence Eng Gallery (formerly Tracy Lawrence Gallery) is also showing some fun  photo collages. It was great to learn more about his public installations, which include affixing rolls of tape to utility poles for people to use when putting up signs. 

Similarly, at Vancouver's Jeffrey Boone, I liked learning more about Matthew Brannon's Robertson's public works, which include rearranging piles of alley detritus and reworking empty billboards. 

Over at Montreal gallerist Donald Browne, I really liked Eve K. Tremblay's print "Facebook," a small photograph which shows someone's head literally planted in a book. This is part of a series of upcoming works based on books and book culture, with a special emphasis on Farenheit 451. After all, Browne says, books may soon disappear due to digital proliferation, if not to censorship. Don't know if I buy that, but I still love Tremblay's bookish plays on words and images I see so far.

On the nonprofit exhibitor side of things, the AGYU's outreach project displays are getting better, including a display of soundscape projects from Parkdale high-schoolers. The TIAF's not the best outlet for experiencing these particular works, but I'm glad they're there. Rashmi Varma's postcolonial embroidery studio from MOCCA's latest Dyed Roots show is more successful in the context I think. No. 9's installation of T&T's weird boat/car hybrid is also fun.

UpArt, the 2008 adaptation of the Toronto Alternative Art Fair International, offered a much smaller array of works than TIAF, but tellingly showed installation environments that would've been an impossible "sell" at TIAF. Highlights included:

Francois Morelli's beautiful installation including silkscreened wallpaper, stamp-printed plates and an ancient winged carriage, all presented by Montreal's Joyce Yahouda Gallery;

Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby's Reanimating the Universe through Basic Breathing Exercises, an installation of taxidermied animals and time-lapse videos contrasting nature and culture;

TH&B's convincing and to-scale hydro pole swarmed with thistles;

Noel Middleton's Platonic Material Plane, curated by Magic Pony, which created a kind of darkened ewok hut out of a bare studio space;

Hajra Waheed's installation and wall drawing;

and Bruno Billio's foyer sculpture featuring a rectangular yellow and black tower supported by toy rhinoceroses and only held together by pressure of the floor and ceiling.

Also interesting but a little less stunning was Greg Elgstrand's exhibition of prints from Jessica Eaton, Chris Faulkner, Jimmy Limit and Tony Romano, with the exhibition changing daily and a new poster created for each day.

I'm definitely interested in what others have to say about all these events!

Photo of Barr Gilmore's Benefit of the Doubt by Itdan from Spacing Wire


Gabby said...

I also really loved Barr Gilmore's Honest Ed's sign and was surprised at how well it worked. Especially in its subtlety and providing a quiet and interesting place for contemplation on such a busy and occasionally chaotic night.

And Ron Tran at TIAF was wonderful. My favourite was his series of Dan Graham postcards with notes written to Graham on each one: "Dear Dan Graham, You look angry in this photo."

Anonymous said...

At Jeffrey Boone Gallery, that artist was actually called Matthew Robertson. I am really glad you enjoyed the booth.
Thank you for the mention.

Leah Sandals said...

sorry i got the name wrong Jeffrey! I'll fix it right away. Great to meet you.

Anonymous said...

Duke and Battersby's installation: total junk. they're capable of mounds more.

Leah Sandals said...

Hey anon,
Thanks for your thoughts on Duke/Battersby. I've followed their work for a while and was actually surprised to see them work in installation this way--maybe because I'm more familiar with their drugged-out and dystopic video-only early works. I think it's actually harder to make work that's more hopeful, which I think they are trying to do. In any case, I enjoyed their setup here, but I'm also interested in what you saw that you feel is better, if you wish to share...