HADLEY + MAXWELL at Jessica Bradley Art + Projects (1450 Dundas West), to February 16. 416-537-3125. Rating: NNN
It’s not as entertaining as Across The Universe, but this show by Hadley + Maxwell, a Berlin-based duo from Vancouver who go by their first names, also takes a music-driven trip back to 1968.
That’s when Jean-Luc Godard released his film Sympathy For The Devil (aka One Plus One), a mix of Marxist political allegory, the Black Panthers (notably absent from this installation) and recording sessions by the Rolling Stones.
Adapted from their Berlin show 1 + 1 - 1 to fit the space at Jessica Bradley, it opens with two mostly red installations that include a drum and metronome under a light and a pink shirt draped over a sound baffle.
Two monitors play “unsynced” videos (to put it mildly: two clashing soundtracks play at once), one reshot from Godard’s film to focus in on small details of the Stones’ equipment, and a similarly filmed video of a louder and less talented band rehearsing in present-day Berlin.
Hanging in the back room are two series based on the film, one of somewhat naive-style drawings of the Stones’ studio set-up and another of prints with enlarged Benday dot patterns (à la pop art) in which band members are represented in silhouette.
Is the artists’ subtraction of the rock stars in favour of their prosaic gear a point about the medium as message or about radical sellout?
Sitting on the floor, a monitor scrolls dialogue from the film karaoke-style. The words can only be viewed backwards, as if now barely comprehensible, reflected in the glass covering a drawing of another bizarre concoction of the era, the outhouse hot rod.
It’s interesting to see 60s counterculture through contemporary eyes, but I can’t help feeling a bit sad that my generation’s childish dreams of a revolution fuelled by drugs and rock ’n’ roll are now fodder for such po-mo musings.