Viewers decide who’s the hero in Curtis Grahauer and Kara Uzelman’s installation.
STORIES, IN PIECES at Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (7 Hart House Circle), to August 24. 416-978-8398. Rating: NNNN
The art world is coming to realize that people still crave narrative. If, like me, you can't help trying to piece together a story from the most obscure art videos, you'll appreciate this entertaining gathering of installations by locals and Vancouverites that entice you to fill in the tale.
Curtis Grahauer and Kara Uzelman's Firewatcher is a lot of fun. The duo's funky bric-a-brac installation seems to be the work of an urban scavenger who puts up rooftop observation huts like the one sitting on a ramshackle platform in the gallery to scan for fires. You decide whether their protagonist is a populist hero or merely an observer/collector.
In Jon Sasaki's Antihero Décor, a bright yellow bulb drains colour from the space to put you in your own private, claustrophobic film noir. The sparsely furnished room infiltrated with odd noise over a barely discernible movie soundtrack feels both familiar and disconcerting.
Myfanwy MacLeod's installation, made during a residency in Scotland, riffs on the belief in ghosts and leaves you to fill in a backstory of terrible events. A red-haired wig pinned low in a corner (called Torso Of A Young Girl) and a photo of a gate that reads "Bank Farm, a home for little children" suggest some sort of child abuse.
Prompted by a poem on the wall, you'll find it hard to resist seeing the water jets in Geoffrey Farmer's The Fountain People, an undoctored video of a shopping mall fountain, as protective or malevolent spirits. You can read Liz Knox's Character Care Packages, photos of food eaten by characters in 80s films, as either affectionate mementos or comments on the empty calories of pop culture.
Let's hope these strong works, ably selected by curator Aileen Burns, are part of a trend toward playful, involving art.