Michelle Allard/Maïder Fortuné at Mercer Union (37 Lisgar), to October 7. 416-536-1519. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
Mercer Union's current two-room show features clean, well-thought-out exercises in contemporary sculpture and video, with some neat new twists added in the bargain.
Michelle Allard is a sculptor who uses "non-precious" materials: discarded or recyclable items like plastic bottles, office paper, cardboard boxes and styrofoam. She configures these materials into startlingly complex and dense visual algorithms.
The strategy stretches strict, process-oriented minimalism to its obsessive limit, and the results are surprisingly beautiful.
In her current piece, Flourish, over a thousand fluorescent-yellow paper rolls are placed in cardboard boxes to form a sprawling sea of upright tubes. It could be a futuristic megacity or a three-dimensional map of an informational system.
Cities are by definition complex living informational systems that rely heavily on office paper, and her process elegantly underscores this point. By marrying her material to the finished piece, Allard completes a pleasing loop of ideas.
Paris-based Maíder Fortuné focuses on the body and movement in her performance and video work. In her video Everything Is Going To Be All Right, a young trampoline gymnast bounces around a tiny white canvas room.
The jarring sound of the trampoline and the flying body of the gymnast at first seem violent and claustrophobic. As the bounding figure brushes against a wall or bounces off the ceiling, the location of up and down becomes uncertain.
What could be a depiction of alienation or aggression becomes an illustration of play when the tape begins to slow about five minutes in. The suspension and weightlessness of the young man's body are deliriously emphasized, allowing us to marvel at his agility. The piece transposes the bleak existential tone of a lot of body-oriented video work into something more celebratory and freeing.