KEN VICKERSON at *New* Gallery (55 Mill, Case Goods Warehouse, studio 109), to August 15. 416-304-0726. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Here's a riddle. What helps us toil in the mud, plant seeds and bring earth to life? If you think of something like a garden hoe, you're right. But if you also think of a rifle, now you're thinking like an artist. Follow the easy, step-by-step photo guide at Ken Vickerson 's Ploughshare Series at *New* Gallery and you can learn to transform shooters to shovellers yourself.
Like a cookbook recipe, the guide tells you how to find the guns, cut them into manageable pieces, weld bits together, heat them until red hot and hammer them into usable shapes. Before you know it, you've taken a tool built specifically for destroying life and made it into one for creating it.
The tongue-in-cheek nature of the instructions helps eradicate the sinister aura surrounding the reconstituted metal. The steel pieces glistening in the gallery lights, disconnected from their former lives as guns, drive home the message that our tools are what we make them. Vickerson invites us to appreciate our own powers to remake the world.
The origami paper cranes dangling down the far wall and the cases of metal jewellery resembling worms and budding plants attract attention for their intricate detail, but slightly undermine the focus of the exhibit. While beautiful, delicate and endearing, they soften the overall message when compared with the robust aesthetic of the garden tools.