Claro Cosco, Piffin Duvekot, Grey Muldoon: Crave Crawl Cave @ UTAC

November 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

Crave Crawl Cave at the UTAC art lounge

On the evening of September 29, Toronto hosted its Annual Nuit Blanche art festival. On this occasion, the University of Toronto Art Centre showcased the installation Crave Crawl Cave by artists Claro Cosco, Piffin Duvekot and Grey Muldoon. The all-night exhibit of this interactive art installation consisted of three geodesic tent-like pods connected by tunnels. The circular pods were about a meter in height and the low, narrow tunnels allowed the audience to crawl from one pod to another.

As visitors arrived at the  Art Centre, they were encouraged to remove their shoes and enter the pods in order to experience the environment inside. Live music added to the intensity of the experience. The three pods each had a distinct theme. The pod closest to the entrance contained numerous smooth, glowing rubber balls. The middle pod was entirely dedicated to furry objects, be it the rug on the floor, the stuffed toys, or the pieces of materials hung on the ceiling of the pod. The third pod had web like nets hanging from the ceiling and was lit by UV lights which reflected off the painted floor and added an eerie effect.

Duvekot informed me that while coming up with this project, the artists looked at Snoezel rooms in the Netherlands, as well as research done on autism spectrum disorders. Through this installation, the artists tried to create a space that would stimulate the senses. They were successful in achieving their goal because not only did we get to see the art installations but we also got the opportunity to feel different kinds of textures inside the pods. Our senses were further stimulated by the improvised music being played by the musicians. In fact, the electric violin created quite a dramatic atmosphere.

Crave Crawl Cave has been previously exhibited at the Monster festival, as well as at the Milton Centre for the Arts. Didn’t get the chance to crawl through the caves during Nuit Blanche or still craving for more? Come see, hear, smell and feel the exhibition which stays at UTAC until the 6th of October.

Tanzila Ahmed

Above: interior of the first Crave Crawl Cave pod.          Below: interior of the third pod.


October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last weekend, DREAMERS RENEGADES VISIONARIES: The Glenn Gould Variations festival was held in honour of Glenn Gould, a revolutionary and renowned twentieth century pianist particularly known for his interpretations of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Performances, installations and an exhibition were put on to celebrate Gould’s life and work. One of the artists who paid tribute to the Canadian pianist is Robert Wilson, using a series of video portraits specially designed for UTAC’s galleries to create an exhibition called Robert Wilson Gould Variations: A series of Video Portraits in celebration of Glenn Gould. Reportedly recreating a moment he experienced while dining to the sounds of Gould and croaking frogs, Wilson meticulously combines his South American Horned Frog Video Portraits with nature recordings and Gould’s arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Eleven HD screens are mounted on the walls of the gallery, each displaying a brilliantly coloured frog that boldly stares back at the viewer.

Wilson masterfully creates an atmosphere that intrigues, captivates and stimulates. The rooms of the gallery are lit only by the vivid colours of the screens and the viewer is confronted with the gaze of a frog at every turn – a truly surreal experience. The frogs, each with a name, gender and colour scheme, seem to have individual personalities and places within the court of frogs ruled by Lord Suckfist (2012) who dominates the central space. Their stares compel the audience to engage with every one of them.

The genius behind Wilson’s Gould Variations lies in how the artist has woven together such a multiplicity of details in order to manipulate the viewer’s reaction, but in a way that is still open to each individual’s imagination. The images and music work together to transform the space: a feeling of serenity can be quickly succeeded by a disturbing loneliness. Wilson encourages the visitors to develop their own interpretations and provides them with a contemplative space in which to do so. This exhibit is truly an experience for the mind and senses.

Robert Wilson Gould Variations: A series of Video Portraits in celebration of Glenn Gould runs until October 6, 2012 at UTAC.

Olivia Tang

Below: Robert Wilson, Mr. Speedball, South American Horned Frog Video Portrait, 2012, video still. Courtesy of the artist.

60 Years of Designing the Ballet @ The Design Exchange

August 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Nutcracker Wardrobe Crate

Focusing largely on the Canadian National Ballet’s past productions of The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake, the Design Exchange’s, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet, is a must-see for theatre and dance lovers alike. With only one full weekend left to catch the exhibition, which displays costumes, set items and sketches from six decades of Canadian ballet tradition; time is running thin.  However, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet is certainly worth the trip as it more than delivers on its promise to provide a comprehensive look into the National Ballet’s backstage story and design process.  Through combining the three-dimensional facets of the stage (i.e. sets, costumes and maquettes) with typical gallery elements, some of which include, video footage, photographs and an interactive station that teaches you standard dance poses, 60 Years of Designing the Ballet aptly documents the humble beginnings of the National Ballet company as well as its critically acclaimed performances of today. While Caroline O’Brien, the curator of the exhibit, did place her focus on commissioning archived costume pieces, she did also make sure that 60 Years of Designing the Ballet was in part dedicated to the art form’s laborious and intricate design production processes. In this vein, the inclusion of ballet “bibles”, a vital stage document that is filled with sketches, scale drawings, inspirations and fabric swatches, offered up a fascinating look into the grueling process of putting on a show, rather than solely the glamorous end product. 60 Years of Designing the Ballet is also paired with a smaller retrospective and community-outreach venture, The Tutu Project.

60 Years of Designing the Ballet run until September 2.


Zhang Huan: Ash Paintings and Memory Doors @ the AGO

July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of the AGO’s current special exhibitions features the work of Zhang Huan, a Chinese artist based out of Shanghai and New York, who is mainly known for performance and body oriented work. While most of the AGO’s focus this summer has been marketing it’s massive Picasso retrospective, Zhang Huan: Ash Paintings and Memory Doors, is a lesser-known gem that traces the very specific art process of Zhang Huan. After completing his studies in America and returning to his native China, Huan reformed his Buddhist beliefs, in turn becoming fixated on the aesthetic potential of burned incense ash. Similar to the act of burning incense in Buddhist services, Huan’s assemblage of large quantities of ash also became a rather ceremonialized practice. On a weekly basis, city trucks would deliver the temples’ ashes to Huan, who would then painstakingly sort through the specimen, dividing it according to gradation and texture, eventually applying the pigments to a linen canvas. In this sense, Huan’s utilization of a quasi-religious, creative ritual, aims to uncover the meeting point wherein which spiritual and corporeal cognitions meld.

Zhang Huan’s “Night” (2007)

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trans/FORM @ MOCCA

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Georgia Dickie’s “Smoking Gun Sculpture I” (2012)

This summer the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art is set to host, trans/FORM– an exhibition featuring Toronto based artists, curated by the gallery’s director, David Liss.

trans/FORM showcases a variety of work by eight local artists, who, despite their disparate media preferences, do share a bond through a common materialist perspective. In this sense, trans/FORM upholds a “New Aesthetic” mandate in that, as the show’s title suggests, these artists aim to primarily stress the material and physical processes that are involved in making visual art. While trans/FORM’s main point of issue is centered firmly on the materiality of the highlighted work, and not it’s narrative or conceptual meanings, each of the show’s artists employ starkly different mediums and thematic sources, some of which hone in on, most obviously, materiality, but also physicality, scale and presence.

Georgia Dickie’s “None Genuine without This” (2012) sets the tone for trans/FORM. Not only is this work the first displayed installation upon entering the gallery doors, but, the piece also manages to literally evoke the artist’s material process and fabrication techniques in that the work is entirely comprised of objects that inhabit Dickie’s studio.

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Headlines @ Communication Art Gallery

June 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Deep Breath

There are only a few days left to catch Annie Terrazzo’s, Headlines, at Harbord’s Communication Art Gallery.  The exhibition highlights just one facet of what Terrazzo herself has labeled, trash portraiture, that is, “art created with found objects from around the world”. Headlines consists of 12 pieces, comprised of various international newspaper headings and articles, which are cut out and put back together in definitive pattern sets. This painstaking process is then heightened in that all the cut outs, which take up the entire background of every canvas, aim to help represent the specific headline Terrazzo has gathered for each piece.  These assemblages are then painted over with black, heavy outlining and a splashy surrealistic colour palette in order to further emphasize the work’s focal slogan.  One example of this artistic method can be seen in Terrazzo’s “Deep Breath,” which illustrates a moody side silhouette of a young woman whose pulmonary system is painted over the newsprint, in vibrant brushy strokes. Terrazzo manages to balance her mixture of media in that her output both equally emphasizes a beautiful painting technique as well as the more mechanical aspect of newspaper assemblage. In this way Annie’s work does not allow it’s audience to shy away from the meta-textual components of her process as well as the layers of sub-meaning within each piece.

Headlines runs until July 1

Stella Melchiori

Review: The Artist Project 2012.

March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

The Artist Project is celebrating their fifth year. Containing 400 individual artists, their works are set in booths and then gridded out over the large terrain of the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place. The vast majority of those on display were Toronto based but there were some from Montreal, Ottawa, a few foreign cities and quite a few of the many smaller cities that dot Ontario. I’d never attended this art fair before so I was struck mostly by how it was different from others. « Read the rest of this entry »

28 Days: Reimagining Black History Month at Justina M. Barnicke.

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

In conjunction with Georgia Scherman Projects, UofT’s Justina M. Barnicke Gallery is showing 28 Days: Reimagining Black History Month. The dual exhibitions are curated by Pamela Edmonds and Sally Frater.

From the press release:

28 Days brings together the diverse work of Canadian artists with that of their international contemporaries in the United States and the United Kingdom to explore the staging of Black History Month. Featuring works in print, video, photography, painting, drawing, and sculptural installation, the exhibition examines the confluence of history and memory and its relationship to contemporary art and representational space. « Read the rest of this entry »

Vertical Fictions at UTAC.

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

The University of Toronto Art Centre will be hosting the group show “Vertical Fictions.” The works in the exhibition were produced in Hong Kong from June – July 2011 and explore the multi-faceted and dynamic urban patterns of Hong Kong through drawing, sculpture, video and photography.

Artists in the show include Minhee Bae, Kevin Chai Kei Yan, Paul Tsang Tak-Shen, Lawrence Chow. Nikki Gelmanovski, Han Yating, Michael Huang, Hanieh Khosroshahi, Lily Kuo Chih Shan, Kimberly Kwan, Robin Li Ruo Bing, Oli Li Xiangkun, Nicholas Liang Jianhong, Alan Peng, Betsy Wang Bingye, Wang Yi Xi, Kevin Yu, Zhang Ling Yu. « Read the rest of this entry »

Gallery Openings for the Week of January 9-13.

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here is a list of some of the new shows on display in Toronto this week.

The group show “The Art of Canadian Portraiture” will be at the John B. Aird Gallery from January 10 – February 3.

“History, Glamour, Magic,” a show of work by Will Munro will be on at the Art Gallery of York University. The show runs from January 11 – March 11.

Bogdan Luca has a new series of paintings depicting the spoils of war while Tibi Tibi Neuspiel and Geoffrey Pugen re-enact the famous battle for Wimbledon between John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg Neubacher Shor Contemporary from January 11 – February 4.

The Tie-break: Nuit Blanche film component from The Tie-break on Vimeo.

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