Two short reviews by Germaine Koh and Sally McKay
You'll have to forgive me for thinking that Persona Volare was going to be about hockey. You see, I knew some of these artists first as franchise players in the world of shinny hockey (Wednesday evenings at Christie Pits and Saturdays at McCormick arena). And then the Latinate title of the exhibition - something about characters in flight - made me recall Reid Diamond zipping about the rink, Carlo Cesta soaring sweetly up the ice, and Rebecca Diederichs slipping into the right place at the right time. It wasn't clear to me how the show was going to cohere thematically, except by a kind of default - such as the participants' common history in Toronto collectives (mentioned by Jenifer Papararo in the accompanying catalogue) - so I chose to believe that the cement was going to be friendship. And you know, I still get as much out of that interpretation as I do from considering how the various works combine scientific theory, observation, and experimentation. Because when you talk about "transformative representations' in Toronto, what I think about is the breathless glory of those Wednesday night games under the stars, and how they finally made this frigid city feel a bit warmer.
Persona Volare I was a little unsure about going to yet another show in an empty office space. I'm not so keen on fluorescence and grey carpet, and not so keen on just how bad art can look in corporate environments. But Persona Volare was different. Each room was just the right size for the art that was in it. It was like the golden mean, and everything was appropriate. One highlight for me was David Acheson's giant honey bear. (Those were my fingerprints. I hugged it. More than once.) Carlo Cesta's installation was very office-like and very romantic. He turned the water cooler into a site of intrigue and the panelled blinds into a sexy skein of corporate mystery. I also loved Lisa Neighbour's smashed coffee cups and when I walked into Rebecca Diederichs' installation a light snow was falling just outside the window. Her translucent finches on the window had a light and gentle presence, like a feather settling on the back of your hand. John Dickson's bathtub with dirty words that mechanically bubbled up to the water's surface was less successful. It seemed like an elaborate set up for a one-liner. Michael Davey's spinning hockey sticks were just plain confusing.