Guns and toys

Rineke Dijkstra/Toni Hafkenscheid at Lee Ka-Sing Gallery (993 Queen West) to May 18. Launch party for Prefix Photo #5 featuring.


Rineke Dijkstra/Toni Hafkenscheid at Lee Ka-Sing Gallery (993 Queen West) to May 18. Launch party for Prefix Photo #5 featuring work by Dijkstra and Hafkenscheid, tonight (Thursday, May 9), 7-10 pm. 416-504-9387. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN


either the world is small and endearing, like a child’s play set, or it’s full of gun-toting morons, like GI Joe come to life. It depends on which of these two renowned Dutch artists’ work you identify with.Rineke Dijkstra has found fame with very straight-ahead shots of people in their places. On display at Lee Ka-Sing are four full-length portraits, each of a young man hefting a machine gun in a generic battlefield environment.

A burly soldier takes his pose cue from Rambo. Holding a massive gun at the hip with a chunky hand, he obviously wants to kick some ass, but the fancy, puffy camouflage hat he’s wearing kind of undermines his tough-guy thing.

In contrast to that overstuffed popinjay, an equally well-armed soldier stands rigid, clearly made uncomfortable by the photo session, his cumbersome apparel and probably his job. He is holding the gun equivalent of a bicycle for two and looks to be in real danger of dropping it on his foot.

Toni Hafkenscheid has other ideas. He has a magic ability to make landscapes look like toy models. He blurs parts of the picture, somehow making the remaining image seem small and unreal.

Sitting in the driveway of a suburban setting, an orange Beetle might be mistaken for a Dinky car. In one low-angle shot, a train engine rests in a clearing, while in another a long line of rail cars snakes though a mountainous forest. You’d swear they were models from a child’s train set. A motel sits on a hill in another photo — a place for tiny travellers to rest their heads.

Hafkenscheid’s world is cute and unthreatening. Dijkstra’s soldiers would probably stomp all over it.

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