The individual battles it out with the collective in Emily Roysdon’s photo piece.
IF WE CAN’T GET IT TOGETHER at the Power Plant (231 Queens Quay West), to February 22. 416-973-4949. Rating: NNNN
Millions of joyful supporters are expected to cause gridlock in the DC area next week during Barack Obama's inauguration. The president-elect doesn't make an appearance in If We Can't Get It Together, a group show curated by Stockholm's Nina Möntmann. But the concept of unified, positive change that drove his campaign most certainly does.
This being contemporary art rather than political campaigning, the overall approach includes a lot of ambiguity around the issue of whether positive change can actually be achieved.
But in a way, this is realistic. Indeed, if anything, this exhibition's strength is the way it leads viewers to a place of undoomful uncertainty, a not-knowing that gives hope a slight edge over anxiety.
One of the stronger works in this vein comes from Korean-born, Berlin-based artist Haegue Yang. Her installation of venetian blinds, heaters, fans, odour elements and video riffs on how humans can open up in both physical and philosophical ways. It speaks ably to the conditions of migration that give rise to a sense of disunity both within individuals and between broader groups.
Also excellent is Indian artist Shaina Anand's social video project. She connects disparate though nearby spaces in an Indian city (workplaces, women's living rooms, coffee shops and bars) through video and audio, allowing four places to speak to each other at once. The results are very authentic and insightful, showing how connection can actually happen at the same time as conflict.
New York artist Emily Roysdon's photographs posit this question of how to "be" in community most straightforwardly, in almost cute Sesame Street style. Her photographs show people in a human pyramid who are at the same time taking an individual self-portrait.
This work is a friendly, vibrant - and much-needed - entry point into the thorny issues that will no doubt dominate 2009.