DEAD! DEAD! DEAD! at Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation (778 King West), Saturdays noon to 5 pm. $5. 416-413-9400. Rating: NNNNN
Ydessa Hendeles just keeps adding layers of meaning. Building on Predators And Prey downstairs, the curator's orchestration of objects and contemporary artworks in Dead! Dead! Dead! achieves an extraordinary depth and intensity. Lighting, display cases and layout in her spacious industrial building all add to the impact.
As Predators And Prey centres on memorabilia from the Hindenburg, the touchstone of Dead! Dead! Dead! is Survivors (The Punch And Judy Project), which includes a stage and a set of George Cruikshank engravings. Grouped in families, puppets stare accusingly from vitrines as if demanding to know why we abandoned the violent comic entertainment that ran in a direct line from commedia dell'arte to the beginning of television. In the centre of the room, a Cycladic head by Louise Bourgeois that gazes through floral needlepoint eyes seems to offer them some kinship.
While Predators And Prey explores power, pulling in notions of collecting, craft and childhood, Dead! Dead! Dead! focuses on the theatricality of violence and mayhem.
Robert Gober's lynching wallpaper and wax shoe, Katharina Fritsch's gun, Charles Ray's embryonic bird of prey, James Coleman's projection of masquerade-costumed characters accompanied by a voice-over of fragmented storytelling and Thomas Schütte's pair of heartbreakingly pathetic doll-sized figures tied together like Pozzo and Lucky all stand on their own, but the show's dramatic unity amplifies the resonances Hendeles sets up among them.
Two talismanic charm bracelets that belonged to Joan Crawford are complemented by Marcel Dzama's gold creepy-creature pendants. Most stunning, in both senses of the word, is a collection of heraldic British police truncheons.
It's all a bit like watching the Antiques Roadshow with Walter Benjamin.
Hendeles's influence on curatorial practice can be seen in shows like the AGO's recent Emily Carr exhibit. We're lucky to have her in Toronto.