KELLY WOOD at the Power Plant (231 Queens Quay West) to November 21. $4, stu/srs $2, Wednesdays 5-8 pm free. 416-973-4949. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
A society generates two things when it produces more than it needs - garbage and art. So says photographer Kelly Wood in an essay on her Continuous Garbage Project: 1998-2003, subtly suggesting that art is a form of trash.
The work itself does the reverse, depicting trash as a form of art. For five years, Wood documented every bag of garbage she produced, photographing them in good light against a white backdrop.
Most shots show a clear plastic shopping bag through which we can see the products she uses. She ties up each bag and drops it in front of the camera without any attempt to make it interesting or beautiful.
It was a field trip for my inner voyeur. I noted the fact that she wastes apples and cucumbers but always eats oranges. One week she has a bag full of cigarette butts, and the next an empty package of throat lozenges.
Curiously, when she moves to Toronto from Vancouver, the quantity of garbage increases by almost 30 per cent.
In one image she takes a jab at the Emily Carr Institute after receiving an alumni award. Her photo of a little resin trophy would not be read as an image of garbage outside the context of the exhibition, but she clearly tossed it out.
Wood's 272 large shots of trash aren't particularly bold or exhilarating, but they are a solid meditation on waste. The achievement hinges on her dedication in exposing the repetitive creation and disposal of every bag as a ritual.
Seeing the packaging from the film she bought through the plastic sack reminds us that even a visual critique of garbage production inevitably produces garbage, not to mention my review of it.