Menacing crows attack carrion on a lone highway in Allan Giddy’s You.
SHAUN GLADWELL, MISCHA KUBALL AND ALLAN GIDDY at Georgia Scherman Projects (300 Campbell, unit 307), to October 11. 416-554-4112. Rating: NNNN
Ihor Holubizky and Georgia Scherman bring three video works from New Zealand, Australia and Germany to Scherman's new gallery space tucked away on the third floor of 300 Campbell. Dramatic staging brings out hidden qualities in each work, each of them a landscape-oriented visual meditation on place.
In Shaun Gladwell's video, a trio of New Zealand teenagers skateboard in majestic slow motion down the ramp of a three-storey parking lot, the roar of their wheels echoing the pounding of the ocean glimpsed beyond the car park's concrete horizon. Mt. Taranaki, sacred in Maori mythology, looms over them as they glide through the structure.
The video derives its power from its simple contrast of the contemporary and the timeless. Its lanky urban youths rolling against the island coastline stir thoughts of colonial and tribal history.
Allan Giddy carves deeper into a similar mythic vein in You, in which an Australian highway shimmers with murderous heat as crows peck and squabble over roadkill. The filmic landscape of a legendary and dark Australia is underscored by a crackly soundtrack of two truckers twanging over their CB radios.
A few minutes later, three country baritones sing the syrupy-sweet word "you" in chorus, a sample from a vintage country tune slowed down until it carries just the right feel of dreamlike disassociation and threat.
Next to the visionary heaviness of these two pieces, Mischa Kuball's loop of Super 8 films of vacationers frolicking in an unidentified Mediterranean country looks almost coolly reserved. Given some time, anomalies start to surface.
The projector's shadow and rattle are evident on the screen and in the soundtrack, though the projector itself is absent, reminding us that the family on the screen is also absent and lost to time. Both the universality of family experience and its fleetingness are highlighted in a perplexing way.
Scherman's smartly organized and vast space is just the venue for thoughtful works of this scope and grandeur.