Sandy Nicholson at Tatar Alexander (183 Bathurst) to Aug 31. 416-360-3822. Rating: NNNN
Next to public washrooms, nothing inspires people to ignore each other more than standing in an elevator. Sandy Nicholson has travelled the world to expose this human behavioural quirk in a series entitled Lifts (that's British for elevator).
Shot without the subjects' prior consent, the photographs are well crafted, despite the need for subterfuge. Taken in, from and around elevators, they have the appearance of stills shot with a surveillance camera. The lighting is moody -- the result of the poor bulb lighting in elevators -- and the faster film speed required to compensate for the low light clouds the shots with a slight grain.
There's a series of larger-scale works, and a wall covered with a smaller-scale works that give an overview of the exhibit.
In one photo, a blond, middle-aged woman has assumed the classic elevator pose: staring blankly up at the flashing numbers. Her mouth curls down in a sharp frown as if it were attempting to remain a floor below the rest of her face. In another elevator full of suits, the thick neck of a businessman crowds the frame.
Elevators in Asia are lit in the sickly green you get when you mix film and fluorescent lighting. These lifts teem with people. In contrast, a deep, red-lined elevator holds a Middle Eastern man who stands in a corner, alone.
Another man in another red elevator leans into a mirrored panel to give himself a beauty check. Nicholson's reflection is caught in the mirror, obscured by the bright flash of the camera.
Where are these people going? Four shots of hallways framed by elevator doors are hung in an ordered group as if to answer that question with two words: nowhere interesting. Banal carpeting and bland walls compete in a race to disappear from your memory. email@example.com