Editor's Note: In honor of the opening of ArtSlant Toronto, we dug through our archives of Toronto reviews from the past few years. We're featuring the following review from David Yu, for its particular celebration of the Toronto scene, which remains cutting edge and experimental.
I’ve been away from the Toronto art scene for a number of years and was looking forward to revisiting the city that served as backdrop to the cultivation of my love for contemporary art. What I miss most about the Toronto approach towards exhibiting work are the conceptually curated, neatly packaged exhibitions that stimulate.
The exhibition at The Power Plant, Universal Code, had me worried a bit. At first glance, the concept seemed too broad - a show designed for anything - another group exhibition for the sake of exhibiting. But I was genuinely surprised by the thoughtfulness of this exhibition. As a whole the show explored “universal” as an idea, the futility in trying to capture something this epic and the humanness in this search for understanding.
Henrik Håkansson, Monarch – The Eternal (detail), 2008, 35mm film, courtesy the artist and Galleria Franco Noero, Torino.
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s Telephone/Time 2004 was definitely a highlight. The piece captures a conversation between Janet Cardiff and a scientist discussing the physics behind space and time and how it is multi-dimensional in terms of a person's subjective experience of it. For example my use of time was smooth whilst listening to this interesting conversation between an artist and a scientist both trying to grasp at the idea of spending time, meanwhile the time passed by very slowly for the person behind me waiting patiently for me to get off of the telephone.
Gabriel Orozco, Black Kites Perspective (front horizontal), 1997, Fuji crystal chromogenic archive C-print, Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City, Collection Thomas H. Bjarnason.
There were a few predictable star-gazing type works all feeding into the scope of the investigation. For example: Katie Patterson’s Moonlight Sonata made an appearance. Kim Sooja’s installation Zone of Zero 2003 nicely added to the mix with a focus on the search for meaning. The installation had three juke-box speakers each with their own audio track of either Gregorian, Tibetan, or Islamic chanting. Played together it became a hypnotic and overpowering presence resonating through the hallways off of the room. I felt the urgency and the yearning through the en masse crying out. This, juxtaposed with the ultra modern jukebox speakers, gold and illuminated with flowing bubbles, created a real sci-fi feel that added to the oddness of the experience.
The Power Plant is always a stop for me when I come home. The programming is innovative and experimental, showing homegrown Canadian talent as well exhibiting cutting edge international artists.
-- David Yu
(Image at top: Ann Veronica Janssens, Side, 2007, Video installation; © Courtesy Galerie Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp; Courtesy of the artists and The Power Plant, Toronto.)