IVAN HURZELER at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1086 Queen West), to April 14. 416-537-8827. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Ivan Hürzeler's recent project, Forest, is a 52-minute experimental film screening on the second floor of Katharine Mulherin's gallery space. The ground level is occupied by alluring still photos capturing elusive moments from the five-day shoot.
The setting of the film is a forest campsite where three groups of athletes - football and basketball players - and a group of cheerleaders thrust themselves into games, social interaction and sexual arousal. The storyline is a blend of improvisation and documentation of mock team-building exercises garnished with impromptu breakouts of frustration and anxiety.
Forest's themes combine an exploration of gender and queer culture with injections of kinky high school fantasies involving sneak peeks up cheerleader skirts and steamy bath scenes. These ideas border on the mundane but have a potentially shocking side that the film doesn't explore to their fullest.
This is disappointing, because the film has streaks of a much more mature and accomplished vision. There is genuine insight in the quiet and subtly portrayed encounters between the athletes and their setting.
The contrast between the tattooed, beer-gulping, nylon-clad cultural icons and romantic notions of wilderness covers interesting territory.
The still photos focus on exactly this - strange contrasts and an undercurrent emphasizing the artificiality of the circumstances.
Here, Forest's ideas are fully satisfying.