Oh deer, it’s not easy being green in Twilight Avenger.
KELLY RICHARDSON at Birch Libralato (129 Tecumseth), to September 6. 416-365-3003. Rating: NNNN
It's hard to pinpoint what's so unnerving in Kelly Richardson's video and photographic work at Birch Libralato. It could be the way the unnatural is continually made to appear natural.
While it might seem that Richardson is making a statement about the colonization of nature by technology, her environments are themselves highly constructed, artificial affairs.
In Twilight Avenger, the most arresting piece in the show, a magnificent stag preens in a forest, evades the camera and finally allows itself to be seen grazing before it trots off into the wild. The background, however, is a meticulously recreated composite of several forests put together with painterly care. The stag itself is a bright phosphorescent green, surrounded by a writhing cloud of greenish vapour.
This painstaking frame-by-frame animation belies the almost convincing natural setting and leaves us to wonder, Is the green stag real or a CGI creature worthy of a summer blockbuster?
In Wagon's Roll, another video installation, a car's jump off a cliff is curiously undramatic. The wheels continue to spin as it hangs frozen in mid-air. Richardson's surreal suspension of this cliché of filmic action makes us wonder what, if anything, will happen next.
This sense of anticipation and dislocation is part of what she's aiming for in subverting the narratives Hollywood has conditioned us to expect.
Her photos, many of them stills from earlier video projects, also generate a feeling of uneasiness. There's always a sense of something gone slightly awry - on more than one level.
The work suggests that as we alienate ourselves from nature, we might also be losing our ability to directly experience the unmediated world.