The Procedures Performed/Auto Pilot video uncovers a universal language.
CARLA ZACCAGNINI at the Art Gallery of York University (4700 Keele), to December 7. 416-736-5169. Rating: NNN
Sometimes the art world is dissed for being too self-referential. An artist makes a sculpted copy of an obscure painting, say, or devotes years to making works "inspired" by a little-known critique of a single photograph.
That's when it's easy for politicians like Stephen Harper to claim that artists care little for the realities of so-called "ordinary Canadians."
Yet as Brazilian artist/curator Carla Zaccagnini demonstrates in her current project at the AGYU, everyday life also tends to work in Möbius-strip-like cycles of repetition and imitation. Even if we're not aware of it, we're much more alike than different.
Zaccagnini underlines this point in several ways. A series of photographs documents houses that are architecturally identical even if varying choices of paint, vegetation and window dressings make them distinctive at first glance.
A video shows two views of the same thing: the ocean. Another video shows flight attendants demonstrating the near-universal sign language of the pre-takeoff routine.
In her most forceful statement, Zaccagnini creates a nearly exact replica of the AGYU lobby itself, along with its front gallery. This entrance to the doppelganger gallery is located at the rear of the "original" one.
These twinned exhibition spaces display similar "artifacts" - running shoes, dishes and ballpoint pens - unearthed from two recently abandoned houses. What's more, all the display tables and plinths have been built by twin T.O. woodworkers the brothers Dressler using similar household discards.
The Groundhog Day effect of stepping into Zaccagnini's twinned environment is intellectually fun if a bit Purgatory-evoking. But does she mean that no art is unique? That no life is? That we're all copying each other? Or that our differences, however small, are still vital?
With an election on the way, these questions about choice and uniformity are timely - no matter what the party leaders say.