What's the Hype?

Cecilia Berkovic, Toni Hafkenscheid, Chris Ironside, Suzy Lake, Lori Newdick, Holly Norris, Nancy Paiva, Geoffrey Pugen, Christos Tsirbas


What’s the Hype? explores the tenuous relationship that exists between our everyday lives and the mirror of ‘reality’ that we see in mainstream media. The Toronto Transit Commission Onestop LCD screens, seen by over one million commuters daily, become the forum for 30-second slideshows by nine Toronto-based artists. Suzy Lake and Chris Ironside collaborate on a set of improbable images. The artists pose as identical young girls in Family Values, a fictional work similar to the tale of Anne of Green Gables. Other impersonations occur in Lake’s Whatcha Really Really Want (2004) through the staging of fake Canadian Idol performances. Nancy Paiva’s Gladstone Cowboy (2009) casts a colourful local character as a celebrity, glossing over the truth of his life story. Cecilia Berkovic reinterprets Hans-Peter Feldman’s 2006 bookwork Birgit, in which the photographer documented a woman applying her make-up, with herself as the main subject. Geoffrey Pugen’s digitally-constructed series Bird Lady (2010), creates an impossible scenario that provokes questions about portraiture and power. Lori Newdick uses the language of fashion and advertising to examine the power of seduction. Holly Norris presents photographs of a model with a disability, in an politicized take on contemporary fashion advertising. Christos Tsirbas focuses on the fate of the book in contemporary society, in a series staring Michelle DuBarry, a beautiful but aging drag queen. Toni Hafkenscheid magically reduces real lives and locations to the status of candy-coated miniatures. When seen on a format intended for advertising, these artworks point to the insidious power of the photographic image to sell us dreams.

Curated by Sharon Switzer, co-produced by Onestop Media Group and Art for Commuters, in partnership with CONTACT . Supported by the Ontario Arts Council.

Curated by Sharon Switzer