WHAT: Aufhebung at Olga Korper Gallery (17 Morrow, 416-?538-?8220), to May 31.
WHY: These actual Mapplethorpe prints – a diverse sampling of archival prints personally curated by Olga Korper including nudes, still lifes and celebrity portraits – offer a rare opportunity to fully absorb the photographer’s staggering technical and compositional mastery. His ability to capture the raw energy of New York in the 70s with morbid, classical restraint remains unmatched.
BUZZ: This particular set of prints features iconic images of Lisa Lyon, the first professional female bodybuilder. Mapplethorpe subtly accentuates and burnishes her physique in some of his most compellingly severe studies of the human form.
Derek Shapton’s empty spaces evoke rich memories.
Angela del Buono and Derek Shapton
WHAT: A New City; Here; Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen West, 416-531-4635), to May 31.
WHY: Shapton shoots empty parks, yards and wild places, his titles the only clue to their significance to him: an overgrown culvert is called We Saw Them Making Out 1983, a beach littered with shopping carts Suicide 1961. His work reminds us that strangers’ unfathomable memories can be attached to anywhere. Del Buono documents buildings in Bramalea. Partly out-of-focus photos make the nondescript architecture seem in flux, and horizontally mounted panels of images are broken by white areas as if blankness were part of the vista.
BUZZ: Del Buono is a recent York MFA grad, and Shapton’s work appears in Canadian and international magazines.
Suzy Lake tidies up in self-portrait.
WHAT: Self-portraits, on the AGO construction hoardings (McCaul south of Dundas) to May 31.
WHY: Lake reworks self-portraits from the mid-90s into a mural. Here, she wears only a thin white slip while steppin barefoot through a room of jagged rubble. The curatorial statement on display interprets Lake’s clearing of debris as a gesture of hope, an implied attempt to clear a path through psychic or material mess to something better, something new.
But what comes across more strongly are questions about power, labour and media hype that Lake’s past works address so pointedly: Who cleans up our messes? How much recognition, protection or power do they get? And what identities do they tend to carry? In this context, these images make up a cogent critique of T.O.’s “world-class” reno frenzy.
BUZZ: Like many feminist artists whose careers began in the 70s, Lake is finally getting recognition for her hard work. Her art is included in the massive, well-received survey WACK! Art And The Feminist Revolution 1965-1980 currently on in NYC. She also showed with female art icon Eleanor Antin at the Santa Monica Museum of Art last year.
The Holocaust resonates in David Kaufman’s photos of Polish cemeteries.
Robert Burley, David Kaufman and Wieslaw Michalak
WHAT: Recurrent Memories: Historic Jewish Sites In Canada And Poland, Gallery 345 (345 Sorauren, 416-822-9781), to May 18.
WHY: Michalak’s photos of dark, rainy nighttime streets and Kaufman’s of sunny, symmetrical buildings and overgrown cemeteries depict Polish sites where a veneer of ordinariness covers the scars of the Holocaust. Burley’s quiet interiors of Toronto’s older still-operating synagogues testify to the continuity of Jewish life. Darkness makes Michalak’s images into mysterious scenes that could be any closed-up town. Moving and masterful work by all.
BUZZ: Burley is in Contact’s flagship show at MOCCA, where he also has an outdoor projection, and was part of Stephen Bulger’s recent Death Of Photography exhibit. Kaufman, a TV documentary producer and architectural photographer, is doing a series on Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Burley and Michalak, who works in new media, are profs at Ryerson School of Image Arts.