BGL at the Koffler Gallery (4588 Bathurst), to November 25. 416-636-1880. Rating: NN BGL at Diaz Contemporary (100 Niagara), to November 17, 416-361-2972. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNNN
What's up with BGL? For 10 years, this Quebecois trio has garnered raves with humorous, magical, rambling installations that critique consumerism and contemporary culture. Shows this summer at the National Gallery and the Montreal Biennale suggest a career high point.
But this Koffler show makes me wonder. Two life-size figures wearing MEC clothes gaze into large, double-sided mirrors that reflect viewer and viewee. Awkwardly placed walls and doors generate a security-checkpoint mood. Mud, bandages and spa-facial cuke slices obscure the floating figures' faces. And most of the space is empty, a shell for the flickering overhead lights.
The effect is eerie, and hints at some of the grand themes: what we expect of art, what we expect of ourselves; how difficult it is to see truth, how far we might go for beauty.
Incompleteness is popular in contemporary art for good reason: done well, it reveals the inherent imperfections of both life and art, and makes space for play.
The problem here is it's difficult to know if the incompleteness is intentional, if the "unsuccessfulness" is a success.
Some might argue that provoking this sense of precariousness is BGL's point.
But BGL's concurrent commercial exhibition at Diaz Contemporary feels much stronger. It's more aligned with past architectural-class-clown glories: a photograph falls off the wall and pulls itself up again; a water fountain spurts dance-party fog; a Darth Vader mask melts into a pool of black plastic; and an I-beam made of burnt wood crumbles on the whole thing.
Maybe the manic pace required for their recent exhibition frenzy has sent BGL to a sombre, rest-seeking place. If so, here's to another visit - after a good winter's hibernation.