MARK MANDERS at the Art Gallery of York University (N145 Ross Building, 4700 Keele), to March 17. 416-736-5169. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
i used to think that if we could step into someone else's mind just briefly, we'd figure out what in our nature was particular to us and what was universal.The work of Dutch artist Mark Manders dispels that notion while giving viewers a potent sense of another consciousness -- in this case that of a quasi-fictional "Mark Manders."
This current installation of expertly realized forms is part of a grander project titled Self-Portrait As A Building, meant both to house this character and embody it.
In Room, Constructed To Provide Perpetual Absence, a pen dangles above a hole in the chest of a human-like form on a slab, while squished between a severe-looking iron bed and a chair are the traces of a tidy man: shoes, shirt, pants, a toothbrush, toothpaste and two dried-up contact lenses.
In Several Drawings On Top Of Each Other, a bronze dog rests its head on a completed pile of sketches, while a long row of stacks of blank sheets awaits.
This is space as stand-in for the mind, the objects less symbols than a deeply personal language for everything at once and nothing in particular.
And since the language employed here is not the kind we share -- unlike that of pop psychology, which is all about sharing -- Manders reveals that a mind truly encountered can't be eclipsed or "got" by interpretation or empathy.
The final feeling is of a universe embodied that seems as though it should topple, but does not.