FASTWÜRMS at the Art Gallery of York University (4700 Keele), to December 9. 416-736-5169. Rating: NNNN
Creemore-based but Parkdale-bred artist/witch duo Fastwürms marry the best of earth-based spirituality with the cream of pop-culture crap. So it's appropriate that their eight-year retrospective is taking place in the suburbs, where country meets city, Gaia meets Robocop and Wicca meets strip mall.
The show unifies six major works against a backdrop of utilitarian pegboard, the kind used to organize basement handyman lairs. But the Fastwürms' trash-witch tools are a far cry from Black and Decker. They include pom-pom-adorned axes, chopped-up wigs, multicoloured sex toys, Value Village hair dryers, mirrors, cat posters, unicorn drawings, crystal rocks and books on macrame, string art and self-help.
The frisky first half of the show is easy to love. Reinstallations of works like Unisex: House Of Bangs (a psychedelic salon offering Barbicide-laced meditations on gender), Blood & Swash (a 3-D manifestation of a Firebird/Trans-Am-driven, felt-marker-tattoo lifestyles) and Gusset Nation (massive webs of acid-wash G-strings and black dime-store brassieres) are backed by a Peaches and AC/DC soundtrack that reinforces their ass-kicking appeal.
The second half is darker and less rambunctious. In Pirate's Head, piles of skulls and hints of corporate-world drudgery lend gravitas to Captain Jack drag. Blood Clock mixes stoned solemnity with axe-wielding aggression, conjuring Kate Bush on 'roids. And Pink Donky, the newest work, has a sedate stop-the-violence message. (Okay, it's told via a ridonkulous ninja-witch feud, but still....)
Given the energy of Fastwürms' past work, Pink Donky is a bit of a letdown. These witches' derived their unique magick from generating joy in life, sex and rock 'n' roll amid the depressing fragments of discount-store culture.
Though greater seriousness is valid given the sorry state of the world, I hope this würm turn isn't permanent.