Art Windsor-Essex respectfully acknowledges that we are located on Anishinaabe Territory – the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, comprised of the Ojibway, the Odawa, and the Potawatomi. Today the Anishinaabe of the Three Fires Confederacy are represented by Bkejwanong. We want to state our respect for the ancestral and ongoing authority of Walpole Island First Nation over its Territory.
May 15, 1999 - July 4, 1999
A point of entry to this exhibition is the personal history that each person has with toys and childhood. Initially, these works may appear to be an invitation to re-enter the nostalgic world of juvenile culture. But with the way toys are re-figured in this exhibition, it is the disturbing side of fantasy that is provoked. However much market research and consumer savvy may drive the production of toys, the use of them inevitably exceeds expectations.
This exhibition brings together five artists whose works in various media – photography, sculpture, and video – draw on imagery from the ostensible realm of childhood. The toys that appear in this exhibition – action figures and robots, stuffed animals, and pop culture wares – twist the glossy surface of consumerism to reveal the irrationality behind it. These provocative works full of humour complicate supposed differences between the manufactured world of consumer culture and the unconscious. Considering that the internet, the most extensive toy now on earth, dominates communications today, mass-market toys aimed at the children’ts market take on greater implications.
As Cheryl Sourkes writes: “Although toys may be normally associated with simple gratification, the works in MindToys subvert this expectation. They reflect a perspective that is at once playful and quirky, confounded and creepy. Deferral and obsessiveness move through these works, but a flinty, dark humour glints through as well.”