… nothing seems to beat Artfag. As I was perusing some past issues– each a long-winded and bombastic essay on the state of the arts in TO– I came across this little number that better sums up my opinion of Ian Carr-Harris than anything I’ve ever been able to muster:
As far as Mr. Carr-Harris goes, we are, admittedly, hampered by our thorough impatience with Minimalism, and thus are doomed to spend the rest of our days wondering why exactly anyone cares about anything he does. He is, for our money, the single most boring art-presence in this city. Physically, his sculptures are the height of dull anaesthesia, about as engaging as Novocaine. Conceptually, they are packed to the rafters with obscure, over-processed literary references that seem tailor-made for a PhD thesis, which in execution, come across as stiflingly pretentious and altogether too clever by half.
And it’s better this way because the writer of that witticism is a Torontionian proper, whereas I’m still a Vancouverite interloper. Until I get my stripes, I’ll keep quoting this site to keep myself out of trouble. Oh hell, while we’re at it, here’s a lovely little summary of the Movement Movement to keep things properly acidic:
…the Movement Movement, for instance, possibly the silliest contribution to performance art that Toronto has yet to produce (what point, exactly, do their gallery jogs serve? As a reminder of how little time people spend looking at art? A comment on literally how far a vacuous idea will take you, assuming you know the right people?)
OK, I just read their eviscerating comments about the current issue of Canadian Art, which, if you haven’t read it, gives the rusty trombone to all the worst aspects of our fair city’s art scene (read: market). It’s worth reprinting verbatim:
Please, for the love of heaven, no more permutations of “Toronto NOW.” No more short-sighted surveys, no more shows riding on nothing more than juvenile ego, and now, finally, no more confused magazine issues devoted to taking the pulse of this city’s art scene.
Yes, we have read the latest issue of Canadian Art. It was the most entertaining trip to the toilet we have yet to pass. Between the terrible photographs, the arbitrary and largely meaningless categories (“The Moment”? “Imagecraft”?!), the 100-word writeups that are an absurd jumble of undergraduate generalizations (“There’s nothing like paint.”), silly jargon (“hybridity”), and the kind of promotional vocabulary ordinarily found in the brochures of the more asinine condo developments, this glib, cursory attempt to summarize Toronto might make excellent toilet paper, if it weren’t for the fact that the ink might rub off on inconvenient places.
As if the editorial board’s (we’re just assuming there’s a board – for all we know, it could be little Richard Rhodes all alone in a padded cell with manila paper and crayons) inclusions weren’t already garbled enough, their exclusions might make one think that they’ve just casually dropped in on Toronto once every 5 years or so. The issue ignores artist-run culture almost entirely; it bypasses our educational institutions completely; video art? What’s video art?
In fact, this little rag puts us in mind of another misguided dog’s breakfast also associated with Richard Rhodes: the Untitled Art Awards. Just as the UAA was modeled on the Oscars (for whatever unfathomable reason), the Canadian Art issue on Toronto resembles nothing so much as Vanity Fair. You know the issues of which we speak: those phonebook sized tomes that take stock of the entertainment industry. Yes: this issue is, in actuality, a poorly plagiarized issue of Vanity Fair. This explains the ill conceived and executed, embarrassingly ponderous group shots cribbed off of Annie Liebowitz and Steven Meisel, and those pathetically misguided titles. Just as Vanity Fair is apt to group De Niro, Pacino and Scorsese together as “The Italians,” thus we have these lunatic groupings, which cannot even pass 16 print pages with any editorial consistency – since when does “The New AGO” count as a collective? And why are the painters alone in being categorized by medium (and for God’s sake, of all the painters in this city, why those painters)? Not that we are in any way surprised; Canadian Art’s fealty to ungainly layouts and the graphic design trends of 1991 has never really evinced any kind of originality of vision.
So to those who were included, we can only offer our apologies; to those who were excluded, think of it as another indignity spared; and to anyone who is thinking that the time is ripe for a survey of Toronto’s art scene: don’t. For the love of heaven: Just. Don’t.