Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Allen's Toronto Exhibit

Allen is one of four artists in the Koffler Centre of the Arts' group exhibition titled how good are your dwelling places. Brilliantly curated by Cyril Reade, the exhibition runs from Thursday, January 14, 2010 to March 14, 2010 at an off-site site located at in downtown Toronto - actually a former residential space. The
home/art space is located at the heart of Jewish life, where daily ritual for the observant or the annual celebration of holidays transforms the domestic in symbolic ways.

The works in the show attempt to trace cultural characteristics within a unifying context, using the home, figuratively speaking, as a screen.This exhibition does not ask what the Jewish home might look like, given the impossibility of defining a monolithic group identity, but gives the viewer the opportunity to question their own dwelling spaces and the potential meaning and cultural information held within them.

The exhibition brings together four artists, Rita Bakacs, Susan Lakin, Ross Racine and of course, Allen Topolski. The work in this show examines architectural and domestic environments, attempting to decode cultural specificity within a homogenizing context. Although not Jewish, the artists were invited to reflect on the fluidity of Jewish identity in North America, taking as departure points the shared experiences of community, individuality, displacement, continuity and assimilation to examine connections and differences.

Allen's work specifically acknowledges his "diaspora" of moving into a Jewish home. (I am still not sure when to use the word "diaspora" but I really like it). The house we live in now was built in 1960 and owned only by Sylvia Weinthal and was a Jewish home until we purchased it from her in 2005. For the exhibition, Allen created an installation of the wall paper and carpet that we ripped out the first week we owned the house. He also created a time based piece (animated video) of his some 800 drawings of cooking pots that are projected in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. He also has a few of his well known found object appliances strewn throughout the house as if they had never ben removed (pictured above).
This image was taken during installation, and there is a space heater in the room that was removed for the opening. The house has no running water or heat - so if you go to see the show wear your long johns!
No kidding, this wall paper and carpet was in what is now the guest room of our house! Behind the cartoon people there is text in sort of framed boxes that reads "If dissatisfied, speak to the management."


RRacine said...

Hello Nancy,

I am one of the artists in the show. Liked your post and particularly the photo from across the street. I forgot to take one myself when I was there, so I saved yours for my records. Would you by chance have a higher resolution version at hand?

Say hi to Allen.

Ross Racine

RRacine said...

My email address: