Saturday, October 23, 2010

Out today: Reviews of Three Distillery-District Shows

In today's National Post, I review three shows in the Distillery District: Bill Vorn at Le Labo (which closes today), Scott McFarland at Clark & Faria and Iain Baxter& at Jane Corkin. An excerpt:

Iain Baxter& at Jane Corkin
55 Mill St., Bldg. 61., to Nov. 7

This exhibition seems especially appropriate for back to school, as two large installations evoke education and its systems. Fahrenheit 450 (Homage to Bradbury and Orwell) is a large figure eight made out of shoe-wearing books; The Lecture is a stripped-down classroom where each stacking chair is nestled into boots or shoes. This use of footwear (which ranges from office-ready pumps to rubber galoshes) is playful but unclear, feeling glib sometimes. Nonetheless, the brogues and ballet flats lend individuality to identical objects. Similarly, the books reflect a range of interests, from neurology to entertaining -- though again Baxter& forces that diversity into a big uniform structure. As a result, it feels like the renowned professor has grown weary of the forced march of our educational institutions-- or is at least willing to question their merits. That figure eight, for instance, could be the infinite cycle of lifelong learning or an inward-looking, tuition-fee-grabbing parade. Likewise, his podium notes list that a lecture can be both "instruction" and "reprimand" -- the opening of doors and the closing of them, too. An older Baxter& photo showing a painted mountain backdrop in front of real mountains echoes these concerns: What stands between us and the real world? Does it introduce us to the latter's grandeur or offer only a pale copy? Interestingly, these questions are as relevant to art as they are to education.

Read on here for the other two reviews.

(Image of the Distillery District from Toronto Tours)

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