Alekos Hofstetter, Holger Lippmann, Paul Raff, David Warne
Where/When: Goethe-Institut (163 King West), to September 1. 416-593-5257.
What: Two pairs of artists, one German and the other Torontonian, show disparate takes on urban demolition. Raff and Warne's video and photography document their 1995 project choreographing the slow destruction of an old wood cottage off Dundas West. First-time collaborators Hofstetter and Lippmann turn pictures of the Goethe-Institut's Toronto home into a series of drawings and 3-D computer models that shatter the building into the thousands of individual shapes that make up its facade.
Why: Dragging function-bound architecture into the world of art gives us a fresh look at these machines in which we live and work. In their poetic destruction of the cottage, Raff and Warne riff on ritual sacrifice of personal memories in the name of progress. Hoffstetter and Lippmann's meditation portrays the building as an empty shell, pure form composed merely of flat rectangles.
Buzz: Co-curators Doina Popescu of the Institut and writer John Bentley Mays pit the local boys' rough and physical work against the Germans' clean, virtual exercise, letting the similarities in their critical responses to architecture form a harmony.
Where/When: Alliance Franaise (24 Spadina Road) to July 14 (closed May 27-June 14). 416-922-2014 ext 35.
What: Several years ago the photographer found a collection of pictures from the 1940s and 50s of a man in various touristy places all over the world. From the Palais Présidentiel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to New York and Luxor, Egypt, Rosier visits each site, dresses like the man in those photos and produces a replica of the original. Side by each, some copies are exact, give or take a few overcoat buttons, while others interpret the moment.
Why: One man's fascination inspires another's. Who was this guy? Did he travel alone or was some ever-present, unseen person taking all these pictures? Reading the expressions on his face, we search for clues to his motivations and identity. Rosier's act of imitation promises revelations, and yet by the end we're no closer to solving the mystery.
Buzz: In the process of making these works, Rosier's interest shifted toward the way the camera frames a lie. While these picturesque sites remain more or less the same, the new buildings and changing social conditions at each site drastically alter the experience of a modern visit. That change serves as the focus of Rosier's next body of work.
Where/when: Library Gallery at the Campbell House Museum (160 Queen West), to May 31. $4, stu/srs $3. 416-597-0227.
What: Spain And Japan In The 21st Century.
Why: Zimbel became intrigued with the different patterns of urbanization that transformed Spain and Japan in the aftermath of the second world war. While Spain seemed to integrate its older infrastructure and buildings into more modern areas, Japan made a clean break with its past and moved into the ultra-modern without a backward glance. Zimbel's photography documents these phenomena and questions how such radically different approaches to urbanization were undertaken at around the same time.
Buzz: Zimbel plays around with the ways architecture from different eras can make the same 21st-century people look either timeless or so five minutes ago.
Where/When: Balfour Books (601 College), to May 31. 416-531-9911.
What: Fading: Photos Of Decaying Urban Environments.
Why: Since the Romantic period, artists have been fascinated by ruins, and later by urban decay. Anyone who's felt a pang of longing and mel-ancholy at the sight of an abandoned warehouse or dilapidated theatre will understand why.
Buzz: Not everything beautiful has to be shiny and new. With a keen and practised eye, McIver picks out "wabi sabi" instances of urban decay that will have you nodding in recognition.