Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Power Plant, Toronto

Kudos to Toronto's Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery for two great shows this spring.
The Welfare Show is billed as "a multi-tiered installation and performance work that offers a provocative commentary on the erosion of social welfare programs throughout the world." Babies left at ATMs, doors leading nowhere, bodies on stretchers in hallways, a baggage carousel creaking empty, and above, perhaps the show's most effective message: the well wrought doors of administration and the crumbling steps to get to them. Berlin artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have collaborated since 1995, and these are the guys who built a Prada store in the middle of the desert.

"Prada Marfa is a store with no entrance that has been stocked with Miucci Prada’s 2005 fall accessories. Following its inauguration in October 2005, the store has now been left to decay..."

Toronto artist Shary Boyle's small-scale figurative sculptures create "a hallucinatory and libidinous universe with a spare, unsettling realism." These finely crafted pocelain figures are eerily reminiscent of the kind found in finely dusted and highly polished cherry-wood buffets, placed on doilies in the middle of oak hutches, and on those highly polished maple-wood sideboards. And so it should: Boyle uses the 19th century art of lace-dripping that brought you those Dresden dolls... But look closely and you'll see the severed limbs, and scarred wrists of these distraught and hysterical figures. All is certainly not well in this world.

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