THE DOUBLE CHIN PICNIC at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects (1080 Queen West), opens tonight (Thursday, June 24), 7-10 pm, runs to July 18. 416-537-8827. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
The kitschy CHIN International Picnic has inspired a self-described chosen family of Toronto artists to create a group show called the Double Chin Picnic. Artists Allyson Mitchell , Andrew Harwood , RM Vaughan and Christina Zeidler salute the campy spirit of the CHIN picnic and have some fun with it, too. Ultimately, though, the timely show concerns itself more with Pride weekend than CHIN.
The work deals with big subjects like rampant consumerism, queer identity and death, but it takes a smart, light-hearted approach.
Harwood raided small-town thrift stores for old plaid thermoses until he had enough for his latest sculptural mobile, which deals with hidden homo-social culture and, of course, lunch.
Mitchell offers a series of endearing dried-apple-head dolls that serve as the ghosts of Pride's future (in the year 2054, to be exact). Don't miss the colourful array of Phentex needlepoint samplers, too. Each one features catchy gaybonics phrases like "total pity party."
Vaughan's video and photography exploring his father's death convey sorrow and humour at the same time. His brilliance shines through in the video Walnut Grove, Mon Amour, in which he re-cuts an episode from Little House On The Prairie (his father's favourite TV show), leaving only slow-motion versions of crying scenes, to which he adds a touching voice-over.
Zeidler presents a CD-ROM titled Bulk Bin, in a perfect balance of form and content. Working under the pressures of mass production, she shot and finished a new video every weekday for four weeks. Because she collaborated with other artists and explores a wide range of motifs, each video is unique.
Most dazzling is the Zeidler/Mitchell collaboration, the sculpture O, Lesbian Organic Shopper. They've mounted two dolls surrounded by faux nature onto a large round board. While the piece expresses true love for queer culture, there is also a critique of its political complacency.