Liz Magor
The Separation

Tak Pham
Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto
September 7, 2023  –  February 4, 2024
Liz MagorDrift, 2021, installation view, 2023.
Photo: Laura Findlay, courtesy of the artist & Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York
Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto
September 7, 2023  –  February 4, 2024
Liz Magor’s solo exhibition The Separation, at MOCA Toronto, evoked a familiar yet ingenious sense of intuition. Unfolding on the open gallery floor, varying moments of suspense invited viewers to reassess their surroundings as they made their way through the complex installation of sculptures and objects. Dominating MOCA Toronto’s expansive industrial architecture, transparent acrylic cubes occupied the centre of the space. Each cube contained a selection of everyday and mass-produced items, such as plastic toy animals, ceramic cups, folded duvets, silk scraps, and rugs, curated alongside Magor’s playful memento mori, including tiny bird skulls with googly eyes on them. Wrapped in sheets of Mylar, the cubes refracted light, transforming them into colourful and shiny presents. Like gift-box sets to be browsed in a shop, items were repeated, rearranged, and customized to create infinite combinations of contained narratives.

Magor, recognized as one of Canada’s leading contemporary artists, investigates sculpture’s narrative potential. In this exhibition, she explored human desires and emotional investments in material possessions and provoked reflection on our relationship with commodities and the societal constructs surrounding them. This objective was most evident in her incorporation of silicon models and stuffed animals into the installation. Above the river of acrylic boxes, three stuffed monkeys hung upside down from metal bars attached to the concrete ceiling. Complementing the gallery lighting, each monkey held a custom lamp, spotlighting the objects inside and on top of the acrylic vitrines. The gleeful and glistening set provided a much-needed emphasis on the excessive consumption of labour and resources — an objective reinforced by surrounding larger dioramas featuring bricolages of workshop furniture, miscellaneous objects, and animal bodies.

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This article also appears in the issue 111 - Tourism

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