RYAN FOERSTER at Clint Roenisch Gallery (944 Queen West), July 7-10, reception tonight (Thursday, July 7), 7-10 pm. 416-516-8593. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Documentary photography often gets caught with its film-laden, utility-belted khaki shorts around its ankles. Why? Because whipping out a big fancy camera in a social setting kills the moment, or at the very least alters it.
Ryan Foerster shoots parties and quiet moments with a simple consumer-quality automatic or Polaroid camera. Both are benign-looking and unobtrusive, and the instant prints become part of the party when everyone gets to see how stupid/cool/fucked-up they look.
Yes, it's been done, but not to death. And Foerster is particularly good.
The main reason for his Happenis show's magnetic appeal is that Foerster grew up with almost all his subjects, making his shots totally natural.
One wall displays four square metres of hundreds of Polaroids from the past few years. The show also includes eight large 100-by-70cm prints and a number of medium-sized shots, some of which appeared in Vice magazine.
Inside shabby apartments or out at night, his pals lounge by a recently scrawled Val Kilmer tag on the side of a trailer or pile half-naked on someone's bed. Each picture hints at a story of who did what, on what and to whom.
In a photo of the Excretions onstage before a show, the lead singer has duct-taped a cow head to his head. Foerster tells me he went on with duck heads on his arms and played with four flaming pigs heads at the front of the stage. Obviously, anything goes.
On only until Sunday, this exhibit is as fleeting as the exuberance it depicts. Go to tonight's opening and after-party at the Social down the road that could very well end up looking like one of his shots.