“Models for Taking Part” and “You had to go looking for it” reviewed in esse

by | Jan 10, 2012 | Reviews | 2 comments

My reviews of two provocative group exhibitions in Toronto which I caught late last year are now online at esse magazine. One, “Models for Taking Part,” has already received some thorough discussion and criticism during its public presentation at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (in fact, I am sadly missing a public screening and talk by Renzo Martens as I type this), as well as at its original staging at Vancouver’s Presentation House Gallery. Though I don’t know that it offers any tangible solutions about how art can intervene in politics, which I take to be one of its implicit goals, as I write in my review, the show does an excellent job of demonstrating the spectrum of outcomes that can be activated when artists try to document or intervene in the lives of their subjects, operating as a nice rebuttal to some of the more utopian claims of interactive and participatory art (I’m looking at you, “theanyspacewhatever”).

The second review of “You had to go looking for it,” the group exhibition that made up Zone C of last year’s Nuit Blanche, is a show I included on my list of favourite exhibitions from last year, and was just one of several strong showings at this year’s all-night contemporary art fest. My favourite piece (as is probably obvious) was Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard’s SOON, a project that on paper sounded like it could go horribly over-the-top and be reduced to a one-liner spectacle (a fate that befalls many Nuit Blanche projects), but which in fact kept me and thousands of other people enthralled well after the actual event ended.