Curated by Simone Rojas-Pick for Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, Obscured Metropolis is a group show inspired by the 1927 German expressionist film, Metropolis. Featuring more than 20 emerging Canadian artists, Obscured Metropolis is full of stoicism and angst in the face of urban existence.
The show is not without lightheartedness, however, in the form of such works as Andreanne Hudon’s Wall of Squirrels or Michael Archibald’s nighttime skylines, which come to life under the glow of a black light. Some of the more standout works include large-scale pastel paintings by Glen Bernabe, whose studies of females set in the isolation of subways and diners, speaks to a tradition of romantic realism. Alexa MacKenzie’s performance work, revolving around chance encounters, highlights the ephemeral aspects of city life and commuter culture in a fun and intelligent series of postings to the Craigslist Missed Connections. Perhaps most impressive and relevant to the show’s theme and inspiration, is the series of sewer tunnel photographs taken by Jeremy Kai; illicit and beautiful, Jeremy’s images are reminiscent of the labourer’s underworld from the film while exposing the literal underbelly of Toronto. Who knew that a sewer could be so lovely? Could it be that despite the feelings of isolation and loneliness often felt in the city that there is also something to love about our way of life?
Perhaps the theme of Obscured Metropolis is not what could be considered groundbreaking, but to deny its importance to anyone living in an urban centre would be a mistake. It has long been the role of the artist to reflect on and document the human experience and if we continue to flock together, there will be countless images and works of art to be born of that experience.
Obscured Metropolis is on display at Propeller (984 Queen St. W.) until Saturday, July 17. For more information, visit propellerctr.com.