MICAH LEXIER at Birch Libralato (129 Tecumseth), to November 17. 416-365-3003. Rating: NNNN
In the past Micah Lexier rooted his installation portraits in hard and fast measurements of time.
Their effect was both existentially disconcerting and mathematically pleasing. Take a small box of coins where each coin represents one month in the remaining life expectancy of an 11-year-old. Every month, one coin is removed to another small box.. Elegant, for sure, but also quite soberingly compact.
This reductive tack came off as a bit, er, Sudoku-esque. Every experience fit into one "box" or the other used up time or available time, life or death, black or white but not both. Logic ruled, and life obeyed.
An interesting thing, then, about Lexier's recent works is that they seem to examine qualities, rather than quantities, of time. They also suggest that seeming absolutes physical measurements, body weights, family relationships or even past artistic "perfection" can be actively altered, improved upon or revised.
This sense of openness comes across in works like Perfect Day (Twice), a handwritten fragment of chocolate-shake diner-morning paradise; Weight Drawing, a wall sculpture chronicling the artist's changing poundage during a diet; and Marcel Duchamp's Missed Opportunity, a vinyl-lettered phrase from the pomo icon improved by Lexier.
Of course, interest in "quality" and "revision" could just be another instance of whip-cracking perfectionism in action.
Still, Lexier's recent experiments in the mutability of minutes, rather than their hard, 60-second edges, are a departure and a welcome one, even for his most math-loving fans.