Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments

137 Tecumseth Street
M6J 2H2 Toronto

May 2nd, 2013 - June 8th, 2013
Opening: May 2nd, 2013 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Queen West
Wed-Sat 11-5 or by appointment
mixed-media, digital, installation, conceptual, sculpture


Husain’s second exhibition at the gallery, titled Gebimsel, is organized around a theme particularly relevant to the shifting cityscapes of many urban centers: condominium living. Gebimsel is a German term that refers to dangling decorations, from garlands to beaded curtains, found in the home. Likewise, his assembly of “anti-architectural structures”, drawings, and silk paintings take cues from condominium showroom decor—items meant to give an empty architecture the impression of lived-in-ness, and more importantly, a lifestyle to buy into. A montage of primarily found video footage of condominium “fly throughs” (virtual 3D videos of proposed developments) follows Marguerite Duras’s concept of the image passe-partout, which describes a blank image open enough to accept an indefinite number of texts. In Husain’s video, as we float through these various constructed spaces, the screen is populated (or accessorized) with dialogue inserted as chat bubbles. The video is an extension of Husain’s earlier videos Q (2002), Swivel, and Shrivel (both 2005), which depict digitized versions of everyday life in the city, but here he presents a more pointed meditation on gentrification. The condo showroom, as a real-life venue or modeled in CGI, is the post-modern image passe-partout, and allows us to composite our own fantasy of day-to-day living into it. Accompanying the show is a custom poster depicting a box of Indonesian pandan leaf-flavoured cake mix paired with the intermittent playing of German popstar Alexandra’s 1968 schlager “Illusionen”. The incongruent collision of these two elements within Husain’s mock showroom emphasizes the melancholic air of his critique, yet they evoke the optimism of the 1960s as a comparison to the present. The promises of high rise construction then seem to have shifted now, especially in Toronto. As Husain writes, “It’s not that the leading critics of urbanism, like Richard Sennet and Jane Jacobs, are irrelevant now, but thinking about urban development in those terms doesn't apply any more now that we're surrounded by glass walls as given facts.”