CARLOS GARAICOA at the Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen's Park), to December 31. $18, stu/srs $15, Friday after 4:30 pm $5. 416-586-8000 . Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
A touring show from L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art brings to the ROM the superb work of 39-year-old Cuban multimedia artisCarlos Garaicoa. Riffing on themes of failed ideologies, urban architecture and decay, he masterfully weaves together many rich strands of meaning in a series of delicate installations.
New Architecture, a city of paper lanterns, is complemented by a wall work of string-and-pin drawings of buildings.
Fragile string lines reappear in the Diptychs, before-and-after photos of Havana structures that have crumbled or been torn down. The artist d raws ghosts of the vanished buildings on the "after" photos with string and pins .
In The Room Of My Negativity, a slew of toy trains bearing loaded English and Spanish words like "racialism" and "poder" cover the floor, while a video shows the word-trains breaking up or performing other symbolic actions. Garaicoa takes up the child's play theme in a series of pop-up books in which he adds monuments and imaginary structures to sites in Havana, a Minneapolis factory and an Angolan hut left roofless by war.
Capablanca's Real Passion recreates a famous chess match between a Cuban and an American using architectural models of traditional and modern buildings as chessmen.
The final piece, Campus: The Babel Of Knowledge, is a model of a prison-like postmodern university where each student is isolated and taught via electronic media piped in by an unknown intelligence.
Garaicoa is an important artist, and we're fortunate that this is the show's first North American stop he's visited in person . (The U.S. barred him from attending in L.A. and New York.) I'd love to get his perspective on our cultural institutions' current building boom.