September 16 – October 24, 2004

Constructive Folly

Works by James Carl, Lyla Rye, Adrian Blackwell, Olia Mischenko, Phil Grauer, Daniel Borins and Jennifer Marman & Galen Kuellmer
Curated by Christian Giroux & Daniel Young

The past decade has seen one of the longest sustained building booms of the post-war era. Downtown Toronto has witnessed its skyline transformed by condos, major cultural institutions have started renovations by celebrity architects, while the suburbs roll out big box stores and stamped-out housing at ever increasing speed. Constructive Folly will exhibit new work from some of Toronto’s most significant mid-career and emerging artists - each dealing with architectural issues within their individual practice.

In an era defined by the superstructures of Libeskind and Gehry, in which art is increasingly upstaged by the building in which it is contained, Constructive Folly could be read as a reversal. By virtue of their greater autonomy, artists are insubordinates within the universe of social construction. Many of the artists in the show have been formally trained at architecture schools, but chose to develop an art practice instead. This exhibition will bring together both an outsider’s critique to the discipline, as well as a highly developed set of architectural concerns toward materials, space, and the viewer as an active agent in their environment.

Combining sculpture, video, photography and drawing, Constructive Folly enjoys the contextual backdrop of the DMG (Doris McCarthy Gallery), a newly built institution staking its claim on the Toronto art world, situated at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. Home to a renowned Futurist mega-structure designed by CN Tower architect John Andrews, the campus is undergoing rapid expansion and is a site of construction itself.

Artwork Details

Adrian Blackwell's blind interrupts the normal flow of visitors to the gallery by converting its glass vestibule into a Camera Obscura viewing chamber. The image projected is of the reception area and office on the other side of the wall.

James Carl has produced Minor Concession, a site-specific installation which borrows from the commercial architectural forms of fast food counters that are found immediately outside the gallery.

David Deutsch & Philip Grauer’s images (Nightsun 6-9) are conversely both ominous and dream-like, and are taken from a police helicopter flying low over the suburbs of Los Angeles. These photos reveal a middle class preoccupation with the trappings of leisure, consumption and privacy that produce a hellish social ecology.

Galen Kuellmer’s Crossways is a back-lit photograph of a tenement block in downtown Toronto takes voyeuristic pleasure in formal attributes of the image: a nearly perfect modernist grid formed by the architectural frame of the building.

Daniel Borins & Jennifer Marman’s Dark Crystal and Beyond Good and Bad utilize a prefabricated enclosure and the black monolith from 2001 to critique the museum system, the fetishized art object and the encroachment of high-tech and tacky interactive multimedia on the museum and ‘high culture’.

Olia Mishchenko’s drawings serve as idiosyncratic illustrations of a world under construction. Combining the consistent, isometric perspective of an architectural rendering with a storybook illustrator’s touch, Mishchenko’s world is full of ambiguous buildings and objects that simultaneously suggest complex, playful and quasi-insectile forms of social organization.

Lyla Rye’s video installation Project, utilizes the subdivision of the rooms within a doll house to explore the growing spatial and social awareness of her child as evidenced through the successive alterations and movements of toys and objects within the rooms of the dollhouse.