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Art Toronto


Oct. 25, 2011 

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Before Canadian tourism freezes up for the next six months, the Art Toronto fair, Oct. 28-31, 2011, is giving the art world one last reason to visit the Great White North before it’s too late. Now entering its 12th year, the fair is bringing 109 galleries from 13 countries to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, including DCKT Contemporary and Lyons Weir Gallery from New York, Mayberry Fine Art in Winnipeg and Toronto, the Montreal-based Parisian Laundry and London’s Adam Gallery.

This year, fair organizers seem to be working overtime to attract visitors with a few attention-grabbing performances and installations. Here are a few of the highlights:

Market Maze
Think art fairs are more like circuses? So does Canadian-history artist Kent Monkman. For Art Toronto’s flagship commission, Monkman is installing The Art Game (2011), a life-size labyrinth of booth walls set up in the main exhibition hall. Styled in the sideshow funhouse tradition, participants traverse corridors lined with two-way mirrors and trick doors and windows. Set up throughout are four “dioramas,” each depicting an art-world heavyweight -- a curator, dealer, collector and an artist.

As Monkman has described it, “The art fair, as a marketplace, has an important and strategic role in the career arc of the contemporary artist, and navigating the path to the museum collection, with its pitfalls and career advances, is all part of a strategy that can be described as The Art Game.”

Canadian Art Now
For a taste of what’s new on the local contemporary art scene, don’t miss “Storylines: Space, Colour, Geometry,” the special group show organized for the fair by Canadian Art Now. The series of exhibitions includes the spare, gray, occasionally ironic photographs from Winnipeg artist Sarah Anne Johnson’s journey through Norway’s Arctic Circle, a video by New York-born, Montreal-based Adad Hannah, a collaboration between Montreal sculptor David Armstrong-Six and abstractionist Christian Eckart, plus a series of discussions with Canadian Art magazine editor Richard Rhodes.

Gleaming the Cube
Toronto performance artist Derek Liddington likes picking fights for his “theatrical installations.” Last year he hired four piano players to cover Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run at increasingly faster tempos until all but one were forced to bow out from exhaustion. Now, during the opening night preview of Art Toronto, Oct. 27, 2011, Liddington brings together two rival gangs of dancers, called The Warhols and The Stallones, for a performance titled A group of cubes arranged during a brawl, sparked by a disagreement over the aesthetic, social and compositional principles of Sol LeWitt (2011). During the performance, the dancers tear down and then build back up a model of an early Sol LeWitt cube sculpture in a kind of choreographed dance-brawl.

Collage Party
Make art, eat, drink and hang out with local artists during the fair’s Collage Party, taking place in a shared studio room that will be transformed into a mixed-media installation and performance space over the course of the fair’s four days. The 10-year-old event, curated by Winnipeg-born artist Paul Butler, has taken place in galleries, schools, museums and stores around Canada, the U.S. and Europe before making its stop at Art Toronto.

RACHEL CORBETT is the news editor of Artnet Magazine. She can be reached at Send Email