LUIS JACOB at Birch Libralato Gallery (129 Tecumseth), to October 13. 416-365-3003, www.birchlibralato.com. Rating: NNN
Luis Jacob, local artist and curator, sometime DJ and Anarchist U instructor and co-creator of last year's Pigeon Condo, has returned from representing Canada (along with Annie Pootoogook) at Documenta, the international avant-garde art fair in Kassel, Germany.
His video of a man dancing in the snow, A Dance For Those Whose Hearts Have Turned To Ice, pays homage to 20th-century sculptor Barbara Hepworth and choreographer/artist Françoise Sullivan.
In the version at Documenta - whose curatorial leitmotifs included "Is modernity our antiquity?" and "What is bare life?" - a costumed man dances while two women sign in different languages. Here, the signers are gone and the dancer wears only boots and a fur hat.
The chunky, undancerlike performer certainly addresses Documenta's second question.
He swings his arms and stomps around, lies on or pounds the ground, alternately vulnerable, silly, like a child having a tantrum. Two T-shirts on hangers that he pulls from a tree are woefully inadequate as covering, and he ends up swirling and flapping them as if trying to take flight. Another room holds photos of figures in stretched fabric that covers their bodies, heads and faces. A seated figure resembles a chair; others recall modernist sculpture; a man seems to be trying to claw his way out of a caul.
Album V, part of Jacob's series of photo clippings, was supposed to be on display but was detained in Germany. Ask the gallery attendant to see an earlier Album in book form, interesting to thumb through and think about the artist's rationale for grouping the images.
Jacob's off-kilter approach to various forms of expression gets you wondering about his themes of skin and covering, modernism and abstract form, but these works don't exactly grab you on a gut level.
I wish Jacob would address Documenta's third question - "What is to be done?" - as he did more pointedly in Pigeon Condo.