Lens-based works pack Punch

Ten local artists combine to mount a consistently smart exhibition


PUNCH 3 at G+ and Lee Ka-Sing Galleries (50 Gladstone), to January 31. 416-840-5549. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN


Punch 1 began three years ago as a celebration of local photographers. For its third incarnation, Lee Ka-Sing and G+ Galleries (located on both floors of 50 Gladstone) have joined forces and shifted the emphasis to “lens-based art.”

Co-curated by Holly Lee (G+) and Natalie Matutschovsky (Walrus Magazine), this rich and heady show features works by 10 Toronto artists.

Adam Harrison celebrates the cool visual pleasures of the darkroom, whether it’s a reconstruction of his high-school darkroom experience or the refracted light of an aquarium tank.

Robyn Cumming ‘s staged photographs of elderly models in elaborately constructed sets nearly steal the show. Replete with grotesque detail, they shed an eerie light on the construction of personal narrative.

Davida Nemeroff plays with totalitarian iconography in her El Presidente series, demonstrating how ordinary people can be remodelled into archetypal dictators with the use of the right lighting and an appropriate hat.

A fascination with dolls as objects of desire and idealized identity inspires Katyuska Doleatto . Shooting Japanese vintage dolls on old Polaroid film, she creates dioramas full of nostalgia and muted eroticism.

Elise Rasmussen dresses her friends up in signature fashion marks of the French Revolution, such as the red throat ribbon, a subtle exploration of her ambivalence about the power dynamics of that period. Tim Saltarelli economically and formally evokes the loop of language, representation and trace with his photo of a single phrase spelled out in magnetic tape.

In the Upstairs gallery, Miles Collyer jumps into the purely visual with his startling series of self-portraits in which he sports brightly colored combos of balaclavas and track tops. Thrift-store chic has never been more visually bold or pleasing. Simon Willms ‘s photos of the enormous and devastating footprint of Hurricane Katrina are equally bold and far more disturbing.

The show winds up with two video pieces: Balint Zsako collects what appear to be random urban moments using the film function of his digital camera, blending the impressionism of grainy video with the voyeuristic unease of a surveillance camera.

Using little more than makeup and prosthetic teeth, Erica Eyres embodies many different selves with creepy accuracy. In her series of four videos, she plays a mermaid, a child model who has elected to surgically remove her face, a murderous schoolgirl and a motivational speaker urging deformed supermodels to move to the “next level.” Both alluring and repellent in her many guises, she perfectly sums up the show’s many takes on projected and received identity.

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