Thursday, August 26, 2010

Worth a Look & Closing this Weekend

A couple of shows I'd recommend dropping by before they close this weekend:

Kunstkammer/Wunderkammer at Interaccess has already had some good reviews from David Balzer and RM Vaughan, but I'll put my two cents in as well and say that there are a couple of standout works that make this worth a drop-by. The first is Philippe Blanchard's Cave Rave, which projects that common Apple-computer "starburst" screensaver onto a painted scene of celebrating cavemen. The genius of this piece was that at first I didn't recognize the screensaver, and saw it anew as a kind of mystic, dancing flame. (Having seen Blanchard's other works recently at Angell Gallery and 47, I'd say he's one to watch.) Jo SiMalaya Alcampo's installation Singing Plants Reconstruct Memory is also neat. In it, houseplants niftily become a kind of technological interface or touchscreen--touch a leaf, and sound is projected into the space; same with a particular plant and video. Also cool, if not actually in the gallery: Torontron, a vintage 1982 arcade game cabinet that has been "retrofitted to play six indie video games by local developers." You can find it at the bottom of the Interaccess stairwell.

The Storyteller at the AGO. I didn't sit through all the videos in this show that's loosely structured around narrative strategies, but I'm very glad I saw Montrealer Emanuel Licha's War Tourist in the Suburbs of Paris and Michael Rakowitz's Return. Both address complex political issues and armed conflict in ways that bring you closer to the people who are going through same. Really remarkable personal tales that help us see wider phenomena more keenly. I had actually hoped to mention this show when I reviewed Drama & Desire, because it's my understanding that many of the paintings in Drama & Desire had also originally hoped to use storytelling (often more mythic than particular, granted) to point to (or take a stance on) key political issues of the day. Anyway, those two works are highly recommended—I can't believe no Canadian museum (or even mid-scale "contemporary art centre") has offered Licha a solo show yet given the incredible reach and ambition of his War Tourist series. But that's what his online CV still indicates.

Still of Philippe Blanchard's Cave Rave from 47

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