HILANDO FINO at A Space (401 Richmond West) to November 24. 416-979-9633. Rating: NNNN
hilando fino, or fine threadinghilando fino, or fine threading
, is an idiomatic Latin American term that means reading the subtext. A Space curatorial intern Amelia Jimenez has adopted the expression for a highly evocative three-person show featuring poetic yet political installations by First Nations artists Michael Belmore and Lori Clermont, and Carlos Montes de Oca, from Jimenez's native Chile.
It's a solid show, quiet and deep. De Oco got off an 18-hour flight from Chile and immediately started mixing plaster for Barrio Bravo (Violent Neighbourhood), a faux construction zone featuring neon-orange hatchets embedded in what looks like grey mud.
Belmore presents graphite drawings on translucent paper that, when backlit, are reminiscent of the lightbox presentations of artists like Jeff Wall. Pillar depicts a beaver-chewed tree about to topple, while 10 small drawings of blue jays -- harbingers of West Nile Virus -- comprise Witness. It doesn't take a psychic to read his ecological subtext.
Belmore's technical virtuosity really shines through in Conveyance, a series of 10 small aluminum plaques, each cut and etched to depict hydro poles. The plaques are surrounded by copper and aluminum "beads" -- actually small tubes attached by screws, an overt Wampum reference -- that use binary code to spell out a word.
It's satisfying stuff.
The Dreamcatcher, Clermont's major piece, has been mounted outside the Woodlands Cultural Centre in Brantford, with photos displayed in A Space's vitrines.
She used trees and braided sinew to fashion a giant dreamcatcher, beaded with bottles of polluted water from Six Nations reserve.
Her smaller but no less pointed Depigmentation starts with a collage of paint chips named for native tribes (Apache Plume, Blackfoot), then recreates it in hand-mixed gouache with beadwork.