The past couple days feels like Toronto has been cast in a Canadian version of The Wire (though David Simon would probably have rejected the whole "get-out-of-the-game crowdsourced extortion video" as too unbelievable), so it seems only appropriate that I would stumble upon an exhibition that combines highly unlikely fact with real life-inspired artifice in my weekly gallery jaunt. While it lacks crack pipes, Somalian drug dealers, and city hall press gangs, 8 Days No Contact at Narwhal Projects certainly catches your attention with albino rats, flaccid dumbbells, a running machine, and Oliver Stone's Platoon on VHS.
8 Days No Contact, installation view
The factual foundation for this group exhibition of up-and-coming Canadian artists is a found journal that was given to curator and Narwhal director Kristin Weckworth. Detailing the post-breakup self-improvement strategies of a young man in the mid-nineties as he cycles through a countdown of days away from his ex, the hand-written exhortations and obsessive lists provide inspiration for a layered series of responses starting with the curator's own contribution in the form of cultural artifacts from the decade in question (eg. VHS tapes) that set up a suitable apartment-like environment. The next level of truthiness is provided by artists who respond directly to the journal such as Tibi Tibi Neuspiel's readymade sculptures on the theme of love/lust and Adrienne Kammerer's graphite versions of idealized love as depicted in Calvin Klein underwear ads. Layered on top of that are a couple more artists whose work just seemed to fit in with the whole obsessive project: Patrick Krzyzanowski's rat-driven daily doodle speaks volumes about the combination of tedium, desperation and frustration that defines those times when we pine for a love that's been lost.
Tibi Tibi Neuspiel, YGIGLF, 2013, mixed media
There is more, but the sympathetic connections between the works are so surprising and the eternal return to our absent inspiration (and his absent object of adoration) is so poignant, that I'd rather leave it up to you to experience it on your lonesome. All the better to feel all alone.
Narwhal Projects: http://narwhalprojects.com/index.php
8 Days No Contact continues until June 9.
Terence Dick is a freelance writer living in Toronto. His art criticism has appeared in Canadian Art, BorderCrossings, Prefix Photo, Camera Austria, Fuse, Mix, C Magazine, Azure, and The Globe and Mail. He is the editor of Akimblog. You can follow his quickie reviews and art news announcements on Twitter @TerenceDick.
Comments (newest first) +click to add comment