APPROPOS at Edward Day Gallery (952 Queen West), to July 27. 416-921-6540. Rating: NNNN
The proposed new copyright act has everyone feeling nervous. Bill C-61 makes it a crime to circumvent locks on digital media, and artists fear the practice of quoting images from popular culture could land them in hot water. Since such borrowing makes up a major part of contemporary art, curator Kelly McCray has no trouble finding a range of work by gallery artists and guests that is Appropos.
Such appropriations are often comic, and much of the show is quite entertaining. Diana Thorneycroft has had galleries take down her work for fear of copyright infringement charges by the litigious cartoon industry. Catch her fun graphite drawings of Pooh attacking Mickey and Marge stabbing Homer while they’re still legal.
Dawolu Jabari Anderson, a member of African-American artist collective Otabenga Jones and Associates, makes dead-on send-ups of racial stereotypes in the form of large posters featuring Mammy, Aunt Jemima and John Henry battling it out comic-book-style.
G.B. Jones co-opts the smooth, slightly adolescent drawing style of Tom of Finland to illustrate hot scenes out of 50s lesbian pulp and women’s prison films, while Daryl Vocat twists squeaky-clean Boy Scout handbook illustration to depict a troop where things have gone very wrong indeed.
Some of the works, though not laugh-out-loud funny, resonate with layers of association. Suzy Lake casts herself as Aschenbach on the Lido in Death In Venice, but also looks a bit like Michael Jackson and may be commenting on the city’s biennial art world blowout.
Sadko Hadzihasanovic applies painterly watercolour technique to a subject usually associated with celebrity magazines, Prince William, cheekily putting the royal in a Calvin Klein ad. John Abrams also uses painterly skill in evocative works that seem to be classical painter’s subjects but are recreations of film stills.
It’s alarming that this government is attempting to censor the arts through Bill C-61 – and Bill C-10, for that matter, which would withdraw funding from films with “inappropriate content” – and it’s good to see Edward Day Gallery and the visual arts community taking a stand.