URTOPIA at Edward Day Gallery (952 Queen West), to September 4. 416-921-6540. Rating: NNN
Kelly Mccray curates this interesting group show under the catch-all concept of personal utopias and fantasy worlds. It allows him to include a range of media and approaches by Canadian and U.S.-based artists.
Several artists take up the theme of the city. Matt Mincoff 's tabletop Electronic Breathing City swells and subsides at its seams. Sarah Graham makes architectural drawings for impossible industrial contraptions with tubes, vents and towers. Scott Chandler 's photographs of empty Toronto hotel lobbies capture the loneliness and sterility of these tastefully decorated bourgeois spaces.
Penelope Stewart 's rectangular wax tower, smelling sweetly of beeswax, seems visually unprepossessing, but it somehow sticks in my mind, conjuring up thoughts of the city as hive. In its dimly glowing top storey, an architectural detail is barely discernible at the centre of each wall. Hanging nearby, a cast of an interior wall with a fireplace clues you in to what might be inside.
Eros, or course, plays a part in fantasy worlds. In Christopher Mandseth 's DVD, white-outlined amoebic forms pulsate and interpenetrate on an orange background, a fun abstract representation of sexuality.
More disturbing are Samantha Salzinger 's projections, viewed through a ViewMaster-style eyepiece. Within postcard scenes of castles or a museum-style diorama of outer space sit pink Barbie-doll-plastic fragments of female bodies. However creepy, these works do make their point about voyeurism and the pervasiveness of pornography.
Two artists work with books. The clippings in Mark Bovey 's prints of pages from an old journal are more interesting in themselves than any intervention the artist has made, but Brian Dettmer 's deconstructed books are fascinating. He meticulously cuts old industrial manuals into three-dimensional relief so the words and illustrations form strange collages, beautiful homages to the machine age.
Strong contributions from Dettmer, Stewart, Chandler and Salzinger make this a show worth seeing.