Julie Andreyev and Thomas Kneubühler at Gallery 44 (401 Richmond West), to December 7. 416-979-3941. Rating: NNN
Thomas Kneubühler's work has the feel of a scary scene from Night Of The Living Dead.A series of well-composed portraits surround Gallery 44's central space. Each shows a person staring blankly off into space. The slight dip of the chin signals that they're looking down at ergonomically incorrectly placed computer monitors.
We recognize that television turns us into mindless zombies, but we still see the computer as the gateway to a new world of information. Kneubühler's Absence series points out that a glowing box is a glowing box.
Julie Andreyev's installation focuses on another place associated with the dumbing-down of recent generations -- the arcade. She's achieved a fun-house effect by taking a photo and mounting it, large-scale, on two opposite walls. In the middle of the room, light plays off a stereoscope to create a mosaic of colour on the floor.
Andreyev uses just these two elements to create the feeling of being at an arcade, despite the absence of bells, buzzers, whistles and yelling. The photograph is of five teenagers. One intently plays the game Motor Raid as another watches from behind. The other three are posed off to the sides. The result is somewhere between classic portraiture and a Sears catalogue. Tension hangs thick, like someone might bum a smoke or punch someone in the face at any moment.
Be sure to check out Andreyev's piece in the project room. Two screens show two dust clouds. On the left is a very dense dark cloud created by the collapsing World Trade Center in New York. On the right is an airy cloud in which detritus swirls as if in a ballet. It's from the 1998 movie The Siege, about terrorists blowing up Manhattan buildings.
Life eerily mimics movies.