DARK CLOTH at the Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre), to October 3. $8, stu/srs $6, Wednesday after 5 pm pwyc. 416-599-5321. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
There's nothing quite like taking something out of context to make a point. The strategy invites an objective look and, if you're lucky, critical yet appreciative understanding from the viewer.
The four artists whose work is now on view at the Textile Museum spark these responses in Dark Cloth.
Barb Hunt , for example, presents army camouflage in new contexts that range from understandable to absurd. In Fodder, hundreds of deconstructed army uniforms hang lifelessly in a row on hooks around a room. The impact of their sheer numbers comes from imagining the people who wore them, dreaming of a better future. Hunt also transforms the army uniform into a quilt, which we associate with safety, and into lace, which we associate with feminine sexuality, challenging our relationships with both materials.
To experience a real confrontation with your previous mental connections, check out Cabinet, in which Catherine Heard takes a familiar domestic backdrop and turns it into the latest horror story. Only a few steps into the installation, the white walls narrow, the light disappears and you remember your worst nightmare as deformed plaster babies emerge from the walls.
Naturally, your eyes seek the nearest light source, only in this case the light comes from cracks in the walls that open like infected wounds. Inside, the most realistic replications of innards you've seen since science class line the fissures. They might be made of wax, but they're gory enough to tempt you to the next opening, where more of the same repulsion lurks.
Although the connection to textiles is tenuous, the display's effectiveness makes up for it. Perhaps the organizers are hoping you'll be so stirred you won't notice.
Chances are, you will be.