Toronto Part One: David Hoffos at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MoCCA)

About the Exhibition

Walking into the project room that housed David Hoffos’ Scenes from the House Dream was disorienting, like walking into a dark movie theater after the film reel has ended.  The House Dream takes the unreality of the dollhouse and invests it with a creepy poignancy—like the terror of things that blend the real with the unreal, a motif explored throughout numerous horror films, i.e. Child’s Play, more commonly known as the “Chucky” movie. At MoCCA, shoebox-sized dioramas were shoved into the walls, stages that, in many cases contained interior scenes of bedrooms and living rooms. What could be an intricate, static presentation of domesticity past—many of these scenes recall a mid-20th century aesthetic—Hoffos has transformed into a compelling non-site by merging the past with present. Scenes from the House Dream revels in visual tricks, thin video projections of human figures flickering in and out of the unmoving sets. The landscape in Hoffos’ installation extends beyond tiny rooms that you can peer into like at a caged animal in a zoo exhibit, but the handmade quasi-futuristic rooms are the most affective part of his installation. These human projections, trapped in a video loop inside these small rooms are left to perform banal, repetitive actions—Sisyphean tasks.  And yet, the sense of astonishment at Hoffos’ cabinet of wonders leaves little room for feelings of dread, in light of his trenchant images and wholly distinctive vocabulary of techniques.

About the Museum

Museums, by their nature as places to house and conserve, imply the collection of objects and artifacts. Contemporary art museums with permanent collections do acquire artwork, but issues arise when years later, the artwork acquired is, quite simply, no longer contemporary.  More than requiring additional resources to provide for the constant maintenance and preservation of a collection, this act transfers resources away from the commission of new work for exhibitions—one exciting reality that contemporary art centers can initiate.  Museums have been forced to confront pressing economic realities as of late, and, in my opinion, the constant purchase and accession of artworks for permanent collections might be a luxury item best left to a bygone era (or to individual collectors).

In contrast to the contemporary art museum is the kunsthalle model. Kunsthalles make no claims or attempts to purchase and then acquire artworks for a collection.  Although this model does not have many equivalents in the States, the New Museum being an exception, I was surprised when I visited the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MoCCA) and discovered that it houses just one, maximum two, project spaces inside its first floor exhibition area—like an airport hangar for art.

Toronto Part Two: Nuit Blanche

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