KURT BIGENHO at P|M Gallery (1159 Dundas East), to May 3. 416-937-3862. Rating: NNN
Sometimes I think my initial university schooling in science laid good groundwork for understanding conceptual and performance art.
For even though it may yield valuable knowledge, the actual performance of science – like, say, killing all the fish in a lake so you can find out, er, what kind of fish live (or lived) in lakes like that – can sometimes come off as a brand of absurdist theatre.
Such were the places my thoughts wandered as I explored Brooklyn artist Kurt Bigenho’s current P|M Gallery exhibition, A Conspectus Of The Department Of Shape Research.
Bigenho approaches the typically subjective and aesthetic pursuit of form in an unusually methodical and scientific way. Permutations of a given shape are fully explored, each given a number on a chart.
Sculptures of the shapes are also here. Smaller ones conjure modular molecule-building assignments from high school chemistry, while a large inflatable silver model is more sci-fi-themed school dance, a dry conference session gone discotheque. A few videos round out the work. Most show animated shapes slowly morphing. One film shows so-called shape researchers at work, using tweezers to pull ellipses and dodecahedrons out of couch cushions and schoolyard puddles.
Overall, Bigenho’s project, ongoing since 1997, offers some wink-wink, nudge-nudge grins, though the joke can quickly get old. What remains after that is an attempt at deeper meaning, a pointing to the source of all form-slash-life.
It dosn’t totally succeed, but there’s something in this artist’s obsession that effectively puts the art world – as well as its practices and biases – under a useful kind of microscope.