Critics’ Pick: “Coming After” at The Power Plant, Toronto

by | Jan 20, 2012 | Reviews | 0 comments

It felt like The Power Plant had me in mind as a viewer when they planned their winter programming. Not only are they presenting a selection of photographs from a new body of work by Stan Douglas (curated by Melanie O’Brian), but concurrently showing is “Coming After,” a group exhibition curated by Jon Davies that brings together works by a younger generation of artists that address feelings of latency and nostalgia for a period of queer activism (namely the 1980s and 90s in North America) that occurred before they came of age.

I already included “Coming After” on my list of favourite shows from 2011, but I also recently tried to summarize the show’s curatorial propositions for’s Critics’ Picks. I think it’s pretty obvious from the text that Aleesa Cohene and Glen Fogel’s respective projects were some of my favourites, but I also really loved Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz’s No Future / No Past video, Jean-Paul Kelly‘s beautiful suite of drawings and Onya Hogan-Finlay’s Periods 2012 series.

The amazing feedback machine that is Facebook has let me know that not everyone has decided they love the exhibition yet, and I’m looking forward to talking more with folks about where their reservations lie. I know that the relationship between nostalgia and political activism is a fraught one for many, and my guess is this may have something to do with the way some viewers are interpreting “Coming After”‘s main thesis. (For the record, I am quite comfortable with using nostalgia in artworks to address the unfinished work of past political movements, but that might be because I, like almost all the artists in “Coming After,” was also born post-1970 and missed being part of the activism of the 1980s and 90s. I came of age in the era of the queer neoliberal citizen, where ads for gay-friendly bank mortgages were for somehow perceived as an adequate substitution for real political equality.) I’m hoping this is something I can hash out with friends and colleagues in-person in the near future, maybe tonight, at the opening of “Lez Con,” Onya Hogan-Finlay’s complementary solo show at the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives.