I_WANNA_SEE_YOU_[Y.Y.Z.CA_DE_OVERSLAG.NL] to June 14 at YYZ Artists’ Outlet (401 Richmond West). 416-?598-?4546. Rating: NNN
What to do when a bureaucracy says it wants art but not artists, the beauty of creative products without the messiness of the creative process?
Such questions hang in the background of I_WANNA_SEE_YOU_ [Y.Y.Z.CA_DE_OVERSLAG.NL], an unwieldy-in-name but simple-in-concept show at YYZ.
Curator Greg Elgstrand wanted an exhibit shaped by artist interactions rather than institutional policies. The artists involved in the resulting show (half Torontonian, half Dutch, all chosen via institutional decision-making of some kind) have produced some gems – none of them, sadly, all that messy.
Several of the works – more from the visitors than the locals – shed light on our urban landscape.
Wouter Osterholt and Elke Uitentuis’s piece on street ad mottos is a standout. In it, they transfer the verbal soup of Toronto streetscapes, like “It’s in you to give” and “Something can be done,” to wall drawings. In a related video, local artist David Salazar reads these phrases aloud at Nathan Phillips Square’s speakers’ corner.
Nicoline van Harskamp’s theatrical presentation of an Amsterdam arts panel, though dry, is also cogent. Civil servants and curators debate the role of the arts in urban regeneration – clearly a global issue right now.
Similarly, Robin Van’t Haar’s ongoing CityScripts project, which documents common urban behaviours, unexpectedly reflects us back to ourselves. In this edition, she compiles images of Torontonians walking with coffee in hand, unexpected icons of our caffeinated, crazy-busy age.
The Toronto artists’ work is more whimsical: Sandy Plotnikoff pastes postcards and pizzas on the walls and ceiling, Katie Bethune-Leamen installs toadstools on a fun-fur blanket, and Corwyn Lund turns a Scandinavian-modern chair into a functional dogsled.
Sadly, though this show is enjoyable, it’s not nearly as revolutionary as the power-to-the-artists discourse it advances. And that prompts a different kind of question: could the same be said for the arts in general?