10 June 2005

So, like I mentioned in my last posting, I was at the MOCCA opening last week. I wasn't planning to go, really - I planned on going to the latest show at YYZ, but a friend told me about the MOCCA party where she was going so we made plans to meet there. I arrived early, after checking out the show at 401 Richmond, and then my friend showed up, but she got into interesting conversations with other people, and I didn't want to interrupt, so I wandered around introducing myself to other people for kicks (which I guess is a way to say that the art didn't hold my attention). But I guess it never really does for very long, especially at openings, and especially at openings in the summer which also consider themselves parties. 'Seen one, seen 'em all' I've been known to say, and the thing is that's not really unfair since artists are so invested in the idea of a series. Perhaps I've opened myself up to the criticism that I don't know what I'm doing - writing about art and all - but I tend to think it's a skill acquired from the channel surfing culture. New technologies introduce new skill sets and exploit unknown talents, n'est-ce-pas?

So, in MOCCA, taking up the main exhibition space, are a bunch of drums. Drums as sculpture, drums in videos, mechanized-robotized drums. I'm sure there's lost here to appreciate if you like music and drums, but since I'm not passionate about either, I don't really have anything to say. Some people like Crest, I like Colgate; this is Crest art to me. That's all.

I suppose I should learn my lesson from my last posting and bitch about it, which would raise some ire and get everyone out to see what all the fuss is about. All I can say is that I'm still figuring out this whole art-criticism thing, which doesn't even matter anyway since people are quite capable of making up their own minds. I guess when I started this gig I figured I'd try to weigh in with my two cents now and then, encourage people to see this and check out that, give them some ins to the scene. So, with that in mind, I'm saying: there's a new show at MOCCA. It's next door to a show at Edward Day which is going to have more visitors now than it would have had otherwise because I said that show was boring. Well, I find the drum show at MOCCA boring too, but for different reasons: cuz it ain't my cup of tea is all. That's not to say it shouldn't have been exhibited in the first place, it's just to say that I'm a nerd who doesn't like the whole indie-music convergence with fine art thing, but that's just me. It's workin' for everyone else. So be it.

This drum thing is called Demons stole my soul: rock n' roll drums in contemporary art. Rock on.

The show I did appreciate at MOCCA is in the backroom, featuring Karma Clarke-Davis, Edith Dakovic, Nicholas Di Genova, Istvan Kantor, Geoffrey Pugen, Floria Sigismondi.

I like Di Genova's pieces; I curated him into the YYZ zine last January, where he worked with that document's newsprint to publish nice black and white drawings. Here, he's showing large images drawn on mylar using animation ink, to give the colours a nice matte effect. I think I'm struck by his pictures because they have this relationship to Japanese animé which I spent my childhood adoring, as did many of us. Animé holds my interest because of the combination of striking rendering, unique stylization, and usually a philosophical underpinning to the story line. By tapping into these associations, Di Genova is able to produce work that holds my interest beyond my usual cursory glance.

In the same room is a video I didn't watch by Geoffrey Pugen. Or I should say I watched it but didn't put the headphones on to hear the soundtrack, mostly because the two available were almost always in use. Next to that is one of Istvan Kantor's machine-sex-action videos ... the point of which I always find is lost because I'm distracted by the fact that I know the people writhing around and I'm thinking 'so-and-so has a nice body'. I think it's all supposed to be about dehumanization, and machines, and porn, but it comes across as a fetish video of all three, with acting worse than what you usually get in a porn video. But hey, he's famous now so who cares right? Nowadays, it's like you're not a real curator if you don't take Kantor seriously, so throw him in with the kids.

Sigismondi is another one of these famous people who's shown with the MOCCA before, when it was up in North York, and she's got a mannequin with horn legs if I remember correctly. The show is called Hybrids, and so it makes sense under this curatorial theme of what Robert Storr would associate as grotesque. I suppose this is a polite Canadian version, extremely understated, of what he was getting at last year with his SITE Santa Fe show: artists mash things up, come and check it out how weird it all is.

Edith Dakovic has the most repellent pieces, to my Colgate mind, consisting of sphere coated with the type of silicon used to simulate skin in special effects. Little hairs here and there, and moles cover it's healthy Caucasian surface, the illusion eliciting the reaction of it being some form of life, some deformed animal grown in the lab for organ harvesting and the usual nightmare scenario.

Karma's video must have been between loops because I didn't see it and don't know what it's about.

Ok, to summarize then: what awaits you when you cross the parking lot, currently marked by that gorgeous installation of blue tree stalks, is Edward Day on your left, who's showing boring realist work and other stuff that didn't catch my attention; straight-ahead in MOCCA, you'll find a floor full of drums cast in bronze or whatever, some of them done up with robotics, along with videos and other things; in the back room at MOCCA, a show called Hybrids which is the only thing that caught my interest. There's probably something else which I'm forgetting, but hey, I was socializing that evening, not looking for the god of the art religion.

More info: MOCCA website (which is in desperate need of redesign).


  1. June 2005: Published on BlogTo.com
  2. 2005-2015 Archived on my websites & blog
  3. May 2023: this version produced