It’s hard to count all the ways the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) exhibition “Andy Warhol: Stars of the Silver Screen” fails. Lame gallery space, obvious exhibition design, poor exhibition maintenance all contribute to a terrible viewing experience. And it’s not the first time. The show is the latest in a string of underwhelming shows suggesting that the film centre and headquarters for TIFF might not be equipped to handle the major touring exhibitions it earnestly seeks to attract. In the five years since TIFF moved into the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a five-story glass-paneled complex in the heart of city’s entertainment district, its exhibition programming has struggled in going year-round.
Blame the HSBC Gallery, its main exhibition space. Despite state-of-the-art cinemas on upper levels gently twisting above an airy street level public atrium, it’s always struck me as an architectural afterthought. Any exhibitions I’ve seen — from a revamped version of MoMA’s Tim Burton exhibition to the TIFF-organized David Cronenberg retrospective survey — have felt cramped, and marred by exhibition design lacking any sort of intuitive flow or sense of movement for visitors.