John Marriott at the Toronto Sculpture Garden (115 King East), to September 15. 416-515-9658. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
John Marriott's show in the Sculpture Garden, Easy To Assemble , rejects function to embrace whimsy.
Using basic building materials, including asphalt shingles and wood, he has put together a bizarre structure that looks like a logic-defying exploding tool shed. It's as if the Ikea instruction manual has been thrown out in order to let anarchy triumph over utilitarianism.
Marriott updates Marcel Duchamp's practice of incorporating "readymades" wine racks, urinals and other found objects into his art, combining that with the do-it-yourself home improvement culture now so familiar to us. Even the sculpture's title suggests HGTV.
As accessible as Easy To Assemble is, the resulting structure is useless; it can't protect tools, lawnmowers or anything else. It's a well-conceived and -thought-out accident. As such, it turns the banal tool shed on its head.
Painted pink, orange and aqua, the squares, rectangles and pentagons of which it's made convey both a sense of humour and of formalism. Marriott's object has a psychological component, too, much like a monumental puzzle. Easy To Assemble is as serious as it is absurd.
Kids are instantly attracted to it, only to be to be faced with the crushing disappointment that they can't climb it.
That's no doubt fine with the artist. Easy To Assemble, a piece somewhere between post-tornado and classic mime, aims to frustrate, and Marriott's tongue is firmly in his cheek.