proof8: alexandra bettencourt, karin bubas, michaela devine, claire falkenberg, dax morrison and myriam yates at Gallery 44 (401 Richmond West) to August 11. 416-979-3941. Rating: NNN
conceived for exhibition at thePickering Nuclear Generating Station, Claire Falkenberg's altered colour photographs of the no man's land surrounding the power plant must have given the workers there pause. The glowing blobs, bursts of fire and streaks of light that appear on her photographs like physical manifestations of our environmental transgressions transform the familiar pockets of land between highways, subdivisions and electrical towers into an alien and toxic landscape.
Falkenberg is one of six young photographers -- all recent art school grads -- whose works make up Proof8, a forum that allows emerging photo-artists to try their wings.
In the ironically titled heart-land, she uses a blowtorch to distress the photo surface, then reworks it with oil, graphite, crayon and sandpaper, mirroring our intervention in nature. And despite the absence of people, cars and houses, the human presence prevails. It's as though her landscapes have been evacuated in the wake of a nuclear accident.
Karin Bubas's large colour prints from the Happy Friday Night series also document abandoned spaces. Shot in Tokyo train stations, waiting rooms and shopping streets, her stark urban images elucidate the beauty found in utilitarian objects -- an empty vending cart, metal shutters, luggage lockers airbrushed with a blue sky -- and resonate with the energy of lives lived.
A refreshing glimpse of the future of photography, and one mercifully free of the ubiquitous computer-generated image.