DOYON-RIVEST at Gallery TPW (80 Spadina, #310) to November 27. 416-504-4242. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
It's not unthinkable that academics in the 22nd century will study today's advertising as art history. Eroding the already gossamer divide between art and marketing with their art-collective-as-corporate-entity Doyon-Rivest, Quebec City's Mathieu Doyon and Simon Rivest , are currently showing Thanks For Being There at Gallery TPW . Where Adbusters appropriates ads to critique consumerism, Doyon-Rivest enthusiastically embrace marketing, making artwork that serves as corporate advertising for itself.
Printed on the beach balls littering the gallery floor is a logo consisting of the Doyon-Rivest name in elegant type and a trite, simplistic globe. Neatly arranged along a brown wall, 75 department-store-style portraits, the weakest part of the show, hint at Doyon-Rivest's target market.
The phrase "Knowing is half the battle" runs along the wall in white vinyl lettering, alluding both to the GI Joe cartoons and to the power of market research. A small projection presents their "research," a series of images of banal architecture, fast food and a van. Pastel charts make reference to hollow psychographic measurements of spirituality, regrets, creativity, pity and more.
Demanding the most attention, nine large, silly, immaculate photos framed in plexiglass feature objects and their logo. A boy gazes over the edge of a swimming pool, one of the beach ball s in the foreground. A pregnant woman showers behind a Doyon-Rivest shower curtain. Most bizarrely, a parakeet lies on its back on a grey carpet, peering at the lens, beside a Doyon-Rivest pencil.
Triggering our involuntary association of the logo-image with advertising, the pieces reflect our media-trained assumptions in a funhouse mirror. Doyon-Rivest's images work like advertising but are utterly devoid of a meaningful message, thereby playing a sly trick on the consumer gaze.