Pitt stop

Wreck Room at Art System (327 Spadina) to February 2. 416-542-1222. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNNwreck room is a cross-country exchange.


Wreck Room at Art System (327 Spadina) to February 2. 416-542-1222. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN

wreck room is a cross-country exchange featuring emerging artists from the Helen Pitt Gallery in Vancouver and Art System in Toronto. Bored suburban kids take refuge in the rec room, a haven of leisure and levity.

The young artists in Wreck Room, however, are somewhat twitchier, wrestling over cultural identity, aesthetic merit and counter-cultural domination.

With all notions of fin-de-siecle spunk subdued, themes in this pent-up show of more than 40 artists swing from appropriation, collaboration, detritus and fact/fiction to sampling, sewing and space.

Art that parodies itself or the artist, parading as recreation, is not new. However, the one-liner approach that proliferates in this wily group show is a variation on this self-conscious theme in art, reducing parody to joke.

Hot stuff includes the illustrative work of Ingrid Z and Zoe Stonyk’s handmade dolls, which distort popular myths while probing our pleasure in what is real and commenting on our contemporary lack of interest in the “original.”

Michael Gauley’s Albums, composed of 12 defaced vintage album covers, is the freakish, amusing high point of the Pitt offerings.

Derek Sullivan’s studio-cum-showroom piece, What Have I Done To Deserve This?, colonizes a corner of Art System’s sprawling space. With large-scale pencil drawing on paper and random notes, packaging and peppermint patties scattered below, Sullivan creates a network of tracks, signs of feeding and wall scrawls.

This installation salvages some leftovers from previous works. By recycling his own materials, Sullivan encourages us to see his pieces as part of a larger, latent cycle of activity and to ask what is a finished work.

Also a plus, Wreck Room is not a group show in the usual sense in that it avoids strategies that try to march you around a curated exhibtion. art@nowtoronto.com

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