ISTVAN KANTOR at the Art Gallery of York University (N145 Ross Building, 4700 Keele), through April 3. 416-736-5169. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The myths around Governor General's Award-winning artist Istvan Kantor work both for and against him. All press being good press, his splattering his signature "Blood X" on museum walls garners attention, but it can also reduce the significance of his work to mere shock value.
Beyond his intent to shock, Kantor opens vital questions concerning technological oppression and the failure of revolution.
At the AGYU , he's showing his new installation, Spielraum/Playroom - Remains Of A Revolution, along with a seizure-inducing feature-length video, Lebensraum/Lifespace - Spectacle Of Noise. Both are jarringly loud and mesmerizing.
The quick-cut video seems to be a broadcast by displaced people fighting for a place to live. Sex obsessed, they adapt scraps of technology to a kind of techno-fucking, all to a soundtrack of machine noise that drives home their thrusting. Kantor takes the role of the beleaguered leader.
Speilraum/Playroom begins with a video screened in a musty old army tent. Scrolling text tells of a revolution over shots of people wired together, writhing on the ground.
Behind, a huge mound of old filing cabinets divides the space. Kantor has a filing cabinet fetish, and his work sexualizes information storage by focusing on the drawers' in-out motion.
Climb a staircase over the broken cabinets and there's a slide down the other side. At the bottom, another filing cabinet stands under three video screens. Two show Kantor from different angles, restrained and wired into a chair, and the third plays footage of whoever recently slid down the slide. The flickering videos can be manipulated forward and backward by opening and closing the drawers, depicting information technology as a means of control.