Pipilotti Rist’s disturbing video Ever is Over All joins the Strait-Jacket show.
STRAIT-JACKET at Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation (778 King West), ongoing. Saturday noon-5 pm. 416-413-9400. See listing. Rating: NNNNN
In the movie Strait-Jacket, Joan Crawford returns home after serving a 25-year sentence in a psychiatric ward for murdering her husband and his mistress with an axe. Her daughter, raised in her absence, gives her the gold charm bracelets her mother wore the night of the murder, initiating a twisted plot that examines how the legacy of violence is passed from one generation to the next.
Those 14k gold bracelets, which actually belonged to Crawford, form a central part of Strait-Jacket, a hidden gem of a show up since 2009. Many of the artifacts, from the previous show Dead!Dead!Dead! are reinvigorated by the addition of Ydessa Hendeles's newer acquisitions.
This time, violence - domestic, societal and political - is its theme. Punch and Judy, the centuries-oldwarring husband-and-wife puppet team, are the first point of focus via a beautiful original Punch and Judy theatre used by British puppeteer Thomas Rose. It's placed in sombre political context by the Bill Brandt photograph of Stalin and Churchill puppets pummelling a prone Hitler.
In the plays, smug anarchist Punch generally refuses to do a task and then gleefully bludgeons all comers, including his wife, the local policeman and occasionally the Devil.
Hendeles's wooden Punch and Judy puppets are grouped in near gloom in the second room. Totems of a childish delight in slapstick, with larger, unsettling implications, their collective grins and stares are eerie.
So is the new 1997 Pipilotti Rist video Ever Is Over All. A woman saunters down a quaint city street in slow motion, carrying a long tropical blossom called a red-hot poker. She suddenly swings the flower at the passenger window of a parked car, shattering it. The marriage of gleeful abandon and violence is both liberating and disturbing.
Barbara Kruger's Your Gaze Hits The Side Of My Face, nestled in a back room, relates the truncheon to the male gaze.
Hendeles situate her objects along a continuum of evolving meaning and compelling associations.