Lorna Mills, “Ungentrified”
In the group show “Absolutely Free” at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD)
One night only, October 4th in Toronto. A citywide event.
Torontoist did a great job summing Toronto’s enormous all-night Nuit Blanche festival two Saturdays ago, but they had a very different experience than I did. They saw a lot of art. I did not. I spent a bunch of time walking down Spadina, and for my trouble saw rainbow beams of light shot off the CN Tower, a curtain-wall made of sweaters, and two blackened “scream booths”. There were lines 50 people long to get into these boxes to do guess what? Yes, scream. To mount all of this, the city chose to close down the street.
I don’t know why that was necessary, but for all my complaining, by far the best, most engaging, jaw-droppingly awesome public art project I’ve seen this year was part of the five person exhibition “Absolutely Free”, showcased that night at the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD). Lorna Mills’s installation Ungentrified filled sky high walls in the museum’s Atrium space with projected GIFs cut out in clusters of hearts, or simple collages on a page. It was a little like getting a glimpse of the Internet’s belly at peak party time; it looks like every animal humping and car explosion GIF is exuberantly dancing to the same song.
A few of the safer images included a triangular skate with moving gills which resemble a face, flying chicks, a dog waddling on its back, and a car fire. Crowds of people pointed to these images as well as an array of weird porn; a guy fucking a dog, a naked man running with a chicken over his cock, a woman humping an inflatable pool toy. Normally, porn in a gallery makes people embarrassed and shy—this made people want to talk.
I’ve never seen so many people delight in and actually discuss the art. Often, the conversation wasn’t more than, “Did you see the dog?” or “Check out those balls!”, but I got the sense that that was the point. Pleasure in spectacle.
And people stayed a long time, so they could be sure to see every last GIF. A stage of CRT screens beneath the projections showed GIFs in a more crisp, isolated form—people used the TVs to inspect the GIFs up close. People weren’t just looking at these images for sex, but out of sheer curiosity. In this show, there’s a GIF for everyone.
That seemed to be the word on the street, too. As I left the installation, a throng of people arrived, so thick they actually blocked the entrance as they entered the building. I immediately overhead one guy ask, “Where’s the porn?”