Milutin Gubash at Gallery 44 (401 Richmond West, suite 120) to February 7. 416-979-3941. (Also at Solo Exhibition, 787 Queen West, to January 24. 416-504-0534.) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
It must be our strange curiosity about the macabre that lures us to Gallery 44 for Milutin Gubash's videos. They're based on newspaper clippings about suicides and homicides. We want to know what he'll do with these deadly re-enactments inspired by Calgary papers since 1999.
It turns out there's nothing grotesque or shocking. In fact, it's a stretch to call them enactments; their lack of action gives them a much more bizarre narrative than you'd ever find in a newspaper.
Most of the footage in these short works consists of long, beautifully composed shots of forests, people walking through forests, and close-ups of hands, feet and faces. Occasionally, the scenes become more urban, but the characters move with the same grace as though they were strolling down the river.
These aren't necessarily meant to be upsetting videos, but I found a disturbing element in the consistent indifference on the faces of the characters played by Gubash and his parents. As Gubash places himself in unlikely scenarios - in bushes or lying down in water - the other characters greet him with inscrutably blank expressions.
And were those traces of wistfulness or contentment on their faces?
Gubash also exhibits photographs of similar scenes, but tells a different story by varying the positions, perspectives and scenarios from the video. I guess it's true after all that there are two sides to every story.