Laurel Woodcock at Gallery TPW (80 Spadina, Suite 310) to November 27, reception Saturday (October 23) 2-5 pm. 416-504-4242. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
In her latest show, opening Saturday at Gallery TPW , Laurel Woodcock continues to charm with her serenely offbeat video installations. Crisply minimalist yet accessible, they always involve plenty of sly subversion and some form of comfy chair.
In her new solo show, she presents three pieces that deal with spectacle, borrowing familiar cues and contexts from pop culture and video art history.
The first installation is called Tribute, a series of light boxes featuring the artist's hand holding a Bic lighter aloft. Each hand stands out in bold relief against a white background, while each wrist is stylishly clad in a different band, ranging from black leather to paisley chiffon. It's a deft use of image that brings up memories of a rock concert and Gap ads as well as the convergence of fashion and hipness.
Further along, stainless steel bleachers provide seating for a video of a woman constructing a house of cards. Though it references the one-shot performance videos of the 70s, it has one fundamental difference. The cards are being glued together with a glue gun, resulting in a much more stable structure. Thus the expectant tension of the sports arena ("Will she make it?") is both invoked and refuted.
This is part of her appeal. Woodcock appropriates the tropes of deadpan minimalism and then subjects them to accidents we don't expect. A perfectly framed shot of a lawn chair is interrupted by the wagging tail of a German shepherd. In another shot a banner proclaiming Congratulations! suddenly crumples to the floor. Woodcock captures these events as pivotal moments of relief and humour, when the visual semantics of contemporary art collapses into the accident-ridden vernacular of the everyday.