Dan Adler

  • Kelly Mark

    The highlight of Kelly Mark’s recent survey exhibition—curated by Barbara Fischer at two of the University of Toronto’s main galleries—was REM, 2007, an installation reflecting the artist’s long-standing preoccupations with television culture, repetitive labor, and wasted time. The work consisted of four makeshift living rooms kitted out like the sets of domestic sitcoms. Each space was furnished with a TV and other items referencing a range of class and cultural signifiers. These included a white shag rug, an expanse of Buren-esque striped carpeting, a banged-up coffee table, a glass

  • Carsten Höller

    I ALWAYS SAY THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU SAY was the apt greeting at Carsten Höller’s recent exhibition “One, Some, Many” at Shawinigan Space, an enormous former aluminum smelting factory that served as a summer outpost of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The phrase is repeated textually and orally—as an English subtitle and spoken Japanese—by a pair of identical Japanese women in Höller’s Tokyo Twins, 2005–2007. The two talking heads appear on monitors that here faced one another, sentinel-like, across the gallery entrance. Recalling Bruce Nauman’s absurdly reductive enunciations in his

  • Perch, 2007, Hydrocal on metal and foam armature with enamel paint, 10' x 4' 6" x 4'.
    picks October 31, 2007

    Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky

    Installed as an evenly distributed, sprawling configuration on the weathered floor of this gallery, Vancouver-based artists Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky’s “Clutter Sculptures” depict clusters of everyday objects—derived mainly from the studio, the home, and the hardware store—in a manner that often yields a startling expressive complexity, given their lack of descriptive details and their limited range of commercial colors. These objects are metal and foam armatures approximating the shapes of mundane things—such as paint cans—which the artists have covered with thick layers of plaster,

  • Iain Baxter&

    Aside from functioning as a mild irritant (it’s all too easy to read it as a typo), the ampersand legally appended to Iain Baxter’s name serves a conceptual end by designating others as fellow authors of his oeuvre. For Baxter&—a pioneering figure who first adopted a light-box format for photographs depicting banal streetscapes in and around Vancouver back in the ’60s—this dispersal of authorship has been almost too effective, given the signature styles of more prominent Vancouver School artists such as Jeff Wall and Roy Arden. Baxter&’s lack of recognition, particularly outside of Canada, is

  • Liz Magor

    Liz Magor’s recent exhibition of sculpture was one of her best to date, combining—with the formal refinement we have come to expect from her—a nuanced mixture of references to domesticity and wildlife, still life, religious art, and Minimalism.

    A pair of sculptures, Bedside and Dresser (all works 2007), installed on the ground floor of the gallery, address the tensions that exist between private and public contexts for the display of artworks and other objects. Each work features a cast of a deer’s head, occupying a shelving unit attached to the wall with large triangular brackets so that it

  • Monika Napier

    Given the severe material restrictions she imposes on her practice, Monika Napier’s sculpture is surprisingly expressive and complex. Her recent exhibition at Mercer Union featured a single, sprawling installation, Power Cord Series: nexus, 2007, which was composed solely of electrical cords, plastic twist ties, and what looked like old-fashioned price tags. Although some of the cords were plugged into outlets, any speculation about their functionality was arrested by their lack of convergence with any appliances and their dispersion throughout the gallery. Some lone cords extended from the

  • Attempt at an Inventory of the Liquid and Solid Foodstuffs Ingurgitated by Me in the Course of the Year Two Thousand and Six (After Perec) (detail), 2007, 2,042 digital C-prints, dimensions variable.
    picks April 25, 2007

    Dean Baldwin

    Dean Baldwin’s exhibition “Attempt at an Inventory” reflects the Toronto-based artist’s preoccupations with the themes of consumption and self-documentation. Small photographs of food and drink are displayed as an enormous grid covering one gallery wall. The work indicates almost everything ingested by Baldwin during the course of 2006. Recalling the long-term duration and diaristic intent of Stephen Shore’s photography, each item in Baldwin’s culinary journey is depicted from above; this uniformity provides the project with a subtle flavor of rigor that is enhanced by the arrangement of material:

  • Allison Hrabluik

    Allison Hrabluik’s recent show featured a video, a sculpture, and three pictorial works exploring landscape and the idea of a rural life revolving around the seasons, winter in particular. Hrabluik’s projected video Rossendale, 2006, incorporates stop-motion animation of a man performing menial farm tasks, such as pitching hay, sawing wood, drawing liquid fuel from a barrel, and tinkering in a workshop. These simple jobs are made strange and symbolic by the jerkiness of the movement and the continual alternation between scenes of actual labor and images of toylike models of the farm’s structures,

  • The Couple, 2007, digital print, 24 x 32".
    picks March 20, 2007

    Johannes Zits

    Johannes Zits’s new exhibition, entitled “Digital Twist: New Works on Nakedness,” features two series of photo-based works and a video (all 2007) that explore the subject of public nudity. The highlight of the show is a group of digital prints that combine found images of naked people with abstract motifs flatly rendered in pure colors. Derived from the Internet, the photographs convey widely differing motivations for shedding clothes. In Confrontation, a man taunts police in riot gear; here nudity functions to enhance an activist’s outrage. The cause of exhibitionistic thrills appears to inspire

  • White Pearl Sunshine Summoning Charm, 2007, still from a color video, 7 minutes.
    picks March 19, 2007

    Zin Taylor

    “Who Named the Days?,” Zin Taylor’s first solo show at this gallery, features a single-channel video, a painted wooden sculpture, and a series of six graphite drawings called “Growth on a Form” (all works 2007). Each of the drawings depicts a central pedestal-like motif—seemingly constructed from found wood fragments—accompanied by crosshatched spherical forms with indefinite contours that suggest fluffy hair, dirt, dust bunnies, wool, or generalized filth. Given the severe lack of other imagery—or chromatic diversity—in these delicately rendered works, one is at times startled by their metaphoric

  • “We Can Do This Now”

    Toronto’s art scene is diffuse and diverse, resistant to rigid codification in terms of tendencies or movements. Such diffusion might suggest a disagreeable lack of cohesion or focus, but this recent exhibition demonstrated otherwise. Gregory Burke, director of the nonprofit Power Plant, and Helena Reckitt, senior curator of programs, mounted a heterogeneous array of work by twelve artists based in the city, designing a display in which minimal interpretive guidance (in the form of brief wall texts) placed the onus on the viewer to speculate on what “Toronto” is or could become.

    Native Torontonian

  • Adrienne Spier

    Adrienne Spier’s sculptural installation Unwanted, Broken and Useless, 2006, the single work that constituted the whole of her recent show, seems at first glance to be merely a spare assortment of old furniture, albeit one that appears to have been deliberately arranged for some elusive purpose. An orderly row of four damaged wooden modernist chairs stand to the left side of the gallery. One has a missing seat; all have stained upholstery. But such details of ordinary wear and tear pale into insignificance given that the furniture has undergone radical surgery, having been dismembered and