Summer Shows: A Space and The Power Plant

July 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Going to galleries lately feels monotonous, and almost like a chore. I visited the AGO and MOCCA a couple weeks ago, and though interesting, the art wasn’t exciting. It just didn’t do it. The lighting and spacing of the AbEx show did those paintings no justice (having had the chance to see them in New York, where they were allowed to breath, and had more natural light, I would say they looked much better there). And the MOCCA show – though intellectually stimulating in its exploration of memory, the importance of place, and its examination of the interconnectedness of art and the art community – felt more like an inside joke (sans the joke) than anything else.

This weekend though, thank goodness for A Space‘s “Leaning Toward Collapse”, and The Power Plant‘s “Rearview Mirror”.*

After-Images: Cedibidaee Reconstruction Site 9. Samina Mansuri. Multimedia with a projection (3-minute looped), Sculptural Installation with Platform. 2009-2010.

In A Space’s “Leaning Toward Collapse”, Renay Egami and Samina Mansuri both deal with the landscapes of war. It was, however, Mansuri’s work “After Images: Cedibidaee Reconstruction Site 9” that was most fascinating. A miniature city installation built with odds and ends, and spray painted silver, the multimedia work – according to the accompanying essay by Jon Short – is “an oblique reference to the memorial construction at ‘ground zero'”. While this work may in some ways try to address the spectacle of war-torn places, for me, it had the additional effect of feeling incredibly like a science fiction piece. In tandem with its 3-minute looped projection it danced between reality and fiction. Separated from the work by a platform with surrounding bars, the viewer is reminded explicitly that this is something that is removed from our own experience. Between the banal materials used to construct the piece, and the more complex notions behind the work “After Images: Cedibidaee Reconstruction Site 9” is a piece to be experienced.

Meanwhile, The Power Plant’s “Rearview Mirror” was just, well, it made me so inexplicably happy I cannot quite articulate my feelings yet. Perhaps just one word will do – FINALLY. There were so many works in this thematic exhibit of Central and Eastern European artists that were amazing, that I can’t praise it enough. Indeed, when I was in the gallery, I was running around like a small child, showing my friend all the works I liked – much to her chagrin. From the minimalistic work of Igor Eskinja’s “Liberare Le Menti Occupare Gli Spazi”(2008), to the humorous video work “Un Chien Andelou”(2004) by Ciprian Muresan, the exhibit was comprehensive (and successfully so) in its undertaking. The exhibition explores the after effects of the Soviet Union, and the art and artists that have resulted from it.

Liberare Le Menti Occupare Gli Spazi. Igor Eskinja. Adhesive tape installation. 2008.

Having been raised by one parent who escaped the Soviet Union (in Czechoslovakia), and another who would tell me stories about relatives who had suffered through it (and the Hungarian Revolution), I probably have more of a connection to these works than the average viewer. What might be overlooked by some is the dark, almost bitter humour in quite a few of these pieces. A humour that I grew up with. It’s marked by the immigrant experience, by the ability to laugh at ones own misfortune and the ridiculousness of disastrous situations (this kind of humour, I’m sure, is familiar to many). It is through this lens that I viewed the work, and perhaps why I enjoyed it so much. I am loath to give anything else away, because then there will be no surprises when you, dear reader, go to visit it.

Admission to The Power Plant is free until September 5th.

*Editor’s note: These shows both began in June, I only just saw them this weekend.

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