Close To You contributor Ai Kajima’s fabric mashups have apocalyptic overtones.
CLOSE TO YOU at the Textile Museum of Canada (55 Centre), to October 12. $12, srs $8, stu $6, pwyc Wednesday 5-8 pm. 416-599-5321. Rating: NNN
As the cool of fall (and the dorkitude of school) descends, mass culture turns to the accumulation of those superficial things physically closest to us: new clothes.
All those back-to-school shopping trips provide a timely backdrop for a consideration of the group show Close To You. In it, curator Sarah Quinton puts together work by five artists to probe the significance of textiles in pop culture.
Japan-born, New York-based artist Ai Kajima's eye-popping fabric pastiches are the exhibition highlight. Burn It Up recycles cheesy images from pillowcases, aprons, handkerchiefs and tablecloths to prove that fabric is a far more exciting medium than even the most caffeinated home ec teacher might tell you. Everything from Thomas the Tank Engine to generic kitty cats to Led Zep logos jostles the eye. Though the overall symbolic arrangement is somewhat apocalyptic, the colour sense and retro nods generate considerable warmth.
American artist Mark Newport's knitted one-piece superhero outfits are a little one-note by comparison, but they're still enjoyable. Newport's self-reflexive Sweaterman and Bobbleman outfits are pleasantly absurd, while his limp redos of Batman and Spider-Man uniforms cheekily undo the hard-body machismo of pop superhero poses.
Hogtown fake-fur hero Allyson Mitchell shows solid - if previously exhibited - works, too.
Less successful is San Franner Scott Kildall's cryptic video of learning to crochet. Though it attempts to question some sexual aspects of textile work, it comes off as dull. Similarly, Ottawa artist Michèle Provost's very good idea of embroidering popular song lyrics on various fabrics is weakened by the decision to play the songs in the space. It's meant to be fun but feels a bit like overkill.
Overall, though, Close To You is definitely worth a stop-by en route to the Eaton Centre. And while you're at the Textile Museum, look in on the spectacular Afghan war rug show that's up through January 27.