Friday, June 18, 2010

At the Galleries: Non-Summit Politics

Online now and out in print in tomorrow's National Post are my reviews of three politically oriented (though not necessarily G20ish) shows along the Lansdowne corridor: Erin Thurlow & Alex Hubbard @ Mercer Union, ATSA @ Toronto Free and New Shape @ Gallery 1313 An excerpt:

ATSA at Toronto Free Gallery
1277 Bloor St. W., to July 24
As our large security-zone fence indicates, world-conference organizers often assume that protest or disagreement is likely to end in destructive mayhem. But the playful, pointed — and entirely peaceful — work of ATSA, an activist art collective founded in Montreal in 1998, shows otherwise. This survey-cum-storefront for ATSA’s oeuvre documents its many impressive projects and offers retail items so that consumers can get in on the (social) action. For example, photos and videos show the massive ATSA project State of Emergency, an annual cold-weather “festival” in downtown Montreal that provides the homeless with $55,000 in warm clothing, 3,500 meals, 24/7 snacks, sleeping areas and more. A suitcase full of ATSA-made, citizen-issued air-pollution tickets (presented to SUV owners and Montreal City Hall) greets viewers at the door. Finally, cloth bags, wool socks and toques are purchasable as enviro-souvenirs of the group’s philosophy. Due to ATSA’s radical history, this recent foray into marketing and retailing might surprise fans. But that’s really just an extension of the group’s pragmatic and populist approach to progressive causes. Overall, a strangely hopeful and heartwarming show.

Image of ATSA's store from the National Post

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