MASSIMO GUERRERA at Clint Roenisch Gallery (944 Queen West), to January 9. 416-516-8593. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Sometimes in science fiction books and movies, a character steps through a rift in space/time and into an alternative universe. Such a hole appeared recently at the Clint Roenisch Gallery .
Italian-born Montreal artist Massimo Guerrera has spent the past five years bending our culturally imposed rules of social interaction. His Darboral project (and maintenance of a supple platform) creates a place where you can relax, have a snack and melt away some of the psychic boundaries that keep us isolated and alienated.
Guerrera's platform is made up of a collection of rugs, ergonomically pleasing ceramic and hydrostone sculptures he's made with others he meets in the space, photographs of these exchanges, plates of olives and fruit (plus the pits and seeds from the feasts of past exhibits) and a few excellent drawings.
Leave your shoes at the door and settle in. Touch things. All the objects are either remnants of past interactions or invitations for present ones, but they are merely markers pointing to the real work, which is to develop a spirit of open exchange and a gesture toward ethics.
Funny how in this calm sense of openness, the absence of abruptly imposing thoughts left me wishing for one. It's like the itching of a healing wound. But this is part of being on the platform.
Guerrera quietly moves through the room making sure everyone feels welcome. He's fascinated by visitors' unpredictable reactions - sometimes they're cautious, sometimes reckless - but he doesn't watch with a cold scientific eye. Unless I'm totally gullible (if not, clearly paranoid), Guerrera actually believes in maintaining a space where people can foster genuinely trusting relations with complete strangers.
If you think that's bullshit, you, too, need to visit.