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By Shannon Proudfoot
Perusing Rare (Ad)diction at Museum London is as intriguing and revealing as looking through the keepsake drawer in someone's house.
Guest curated by Scott McLeod, editor of Toronto-based Prefix Photo magazine, the show features the work of three Canadian and one Venezuelan artist.
Entering the gallery, one is confronted by four banks of photos arranged in various configurations, with the links not readily apparent. The concept for the exhibit came from McLeod's desire to find artists who were creatively collecting materials that responded to social concerns.
The title, Rare (Ad)diction, refers to both the addiction of compulsive collecting and the diction in expressing oneself.
Photo by Museum London
WHAT'S YOUR RARE (AD)DICTION? From the exhibit, "Parlare," by Tonia Di Risio,
which is showing now until Mar. 17 at Museum London.
Arranged in an arresting line on the right wall are Luis Molina-Pantin's massive "Apocalyptic Postcards," unmanipulated enlargements of tourist postcards from destinations like the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and San Francisco.
The photos are so saturated with melodramatic colour that, at first glance, they appear to be images of violence and disaster, rather than clichéd landmarks. At this scale, the photos lend these familiar objects a new perspective that is vaguely disconcerting.
From a distance, Susan Kealey's "The Phenomenology of Licorice" appears to be a series of deep blue and red mosaic pieces arranged in three geometric grids.
Upon closer examination, these engagingly deceptive photos reveal the metallic forms of animals, birds, human figures and cartoon characters. Only the extended label on the gallery wall reveals that these subtly-altered photos are of Dutch licorice candies.
Kealey presents an ethnographic portrait of the Netherlands where these candies are popular and their whimsical shapes lend a clever sense of playfulness.
Kealey's and Molina-Pantin's works are somewhat frustrating to view because of dim lighting, coupled with glare on their glass frames. Still, their vivid colours and fascinating details capture the imagination.
Julie Arnold's "Bitter Sweet Story" features black and white photos of various everyday words carved into stone, which are in fact family names on tombstones.
The photos are arranged in columns of three and, if read vertically or diagonally, reveal witty phrases such as "Rich Fatt Merchant" and "Strong White Leader" that make ironic commentary on racial and social stereotypes.
Tonia Di Risio's "Parlare" combines framed photographs of varying ages with a looping video of the artist repeating the syllables of Italian verbs. The visual element of the piece consists of dozens of passport photos of Italian women, interspersed with video stills of the artist and close-ups of domestic surfaces and objects.
The work is mounted on a bright red wall and presents the comforting, yet strangely eerie impression of viewing an overflowing wall of family portraits. They form a wonderfully-complex montage of layered images that document the artist's attempt to define her place in the matrilineage of her family.
Though the video component effectively evokes the strength of the artist's Italian heritage, the audible intrusion detracts somewhat from the impact of the other pieces in the space.
Rare (Ad)diction is a fascinating lesson in deceptive appearances and reveals what everyday collections can convey about human lives. The exhibit is a little inaccessible for the casual viewer, but well worth the time it takes to fully comprehend.
Rare (Ad)diction is on display in the Museum London photo gallery at until Mar. 17. Admission is free.