Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recommended: Robert Waters @ PM Gallery

One of the world's biggest Pride celebrations is upon us in Toronto, with lots of sexuality-related shows in local galleries. But one of the more interesting shows I've seen on this theme of late has nothing to do with Pride per se. In Robert Waters' show "Shooter" at PM Gallery in Leslieville, the artist seems a bit obsessed with masculinity as anatomy and analogy—but in a fun, thoughtful kind of way.

Walking into the gallery, you first see Waters' recreation of a type of porn-selling kiosk found in Mexico, where he currently lives and works. The kiosk is filled with DVD cases -- but in Johnson's version each DVD case displays a photo of this type of kiosk, instead of a porn title. The photos alone would be interesting, but the self-reflexive presentation is a nice mini-architectural touch.

On the wall across from the kiosk, Waters displays black-and-white prints of men's underwear displays, also from Mexico.

Both these works offer unusual meditations on the public depiction of male sex and sexuality—it reminded me in a distant way of a another show at PM Gallery by Craig LeBlanc. Gallerist Powell McDougall may be a new mom to a young daughter, but she's good at picking out these artists/works that address male identity in interesting, ambivalent ways.

But the piece de resistance is in a separate part of the gallery, where a sketch of Duchamp's bottle rack morphs into a gun rack--complete with authentic guns. It's a nice inversion and a funny joke for the geeky art crowd set. This work is mounted close to a two-video projection of a hunter shooting at paper targets, as well as well as examples of life-size targets that have been altered by bullets, stickers and xacto knives to provide further statements on male roles. Up to June 30, it's worth a look before or after Sunday's parade.

Images from top: Inside Outside; Nurture vs. Nurture; and Target that Will Not Feel a Thing (Central Nervous System Removal), all by Robert Waters and from PM Gallery's website.

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