PROPAGANDISTA: The Manufacturing & Dissemination of Propaganda at the Toronto Free Gallery (660 Queen East) through December 22. 416-913-0461. Rating: NN Rating: NN
An effective response to propaganda involves more than simple counter-spin. It requires making savvy messages that reflect some awareness that you're spreading propaganda yourself.
Several of the 19 artists in the Propagandista show need to give their ideas another twist. Obvious and base responses to consumerism include, for example, a painting of a smashed TV, paper cutouts of corporate logos, and SPART, an angry counterculture manifesto from Justin McKeown , who has read little more than a beginner's guide to postmodernism, spells "bourgeois" wrong and should stick to performance art.
The fledgling Toronto Free Gallery has an admirably inclusive policy, mixing established with emerging artists and even people taking a first creative stab. While the recipe can result in an uneven exhibit (what show isn't?), there's some incisive work here.
Allyson Mitchell's video Free! Bake! Sale! documents an anti-diet performance by Pretty Porky and Pissed Off at Ryerson University to change our ideas about the meaning of fat. Also great is Daryl Vocat 's large quilt, Revolution Is Fed With A Needle And Thread, which includes repetitions of his fabulous catchphrase, "Not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you."
Slicing most keenly into the heart of propaganda is a little pamphlet on the windowsill in a plexiglass holder. It's Deva Eveland 's cure-all guide to healthy eating, which argues that we should consume our own bodies.
Looking like a brochure from a health clinic, it confidently assures the reader, "You have rich and buttery eyes," and "We also instinctively chew our fingernails as a healthy way of dealing with stress. If this is so, imagine the psychological benefit from consuming an entire arm and a leg."
And I'm off for lunch.