Friday, August 12, 2011

A Few Reviews, aka Let's Talk About Things I'm Generally Sensitive About @ the Design Exchange, Power Plant, TIFF & More

Sometimes I think I should do away with the term "reviews" altogether in relation to the writing I do and just call these pieces of writing something more accurate: Let's Talk About Things I'm Generally Sensitive About. The latest edition of my At the Galleries column for the National Post (online now and in print tomorrow) brings up a few of these Things: Staycations, Canada, Outdoor Stuffs, Distance (Physical and Otherwise), Wall Texts and Catholicism.

More conventionally speaking, the column discusses the following shows: Play>Nation at the Design Exchange, Rearview Mirror at the Power Plant, Fellini and My Name is Raj at TIFF and, in a recommendational way, Magic Squares at the Textile Museum.

An excerpt:

Rearview Mirror: New Art from Central and Eastern Europe at the Power Plant - 231 Queens Quay W., to Sept. 6

This exhibition left me with an uncertain feeling. On the one hand, curator Christopher Eamon tries to make the case that new art from Eastern Europe resists any idea of the region as a cultural monolith. On the other hand, all the exhibition’s works seem to fit into a theme: distance between past and present, “here” and “there,” or “us” and “them.” Whether spun humorously (as in Dusica Drazic’s Young Serbian, where a young woman dances to a cover of David Bowie’s Young Americans alongside a bleak, rainy highway) or soberingly (see Igor Eskinja’s tape-gun sculptures of gallows), this sense of distance predominated for me. Granted, artists worldwide make careers of juxtaposing disparate objects, images and contexts, so the uniformity I observed may simply be a reflection of this international trend. Also, there’s plenty of strong works to view, like Anetta Mona Chisa and Lucia Tkacova’s film of a cheery baton troupe marching along a drab, Soviet-style bridge. Still, I’d hoped for a bit more rigour — even if it was just acknowledging that Ukraine-born artist Taras Polataiko, showing a series of compelling monochrome paintings, has worked in Canada for two decades. Omissions like that make me wonder what other details have gone unsaid for the sake of an interesting-sounding thesis.

Read on for the rest at Posted Toronto, the National Post's Hogtown-centric blog.

(Image: A still from Anetta Mona Chisa and Lucia Tkacova's Manifesto of the Futurist Woman (Let's Conclude) Courtesy the artists and Christine Konig Galerie, Vienna and via the National Post)

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