Leaving Richard's Valley
A ramshackle gang of urban wildlife – a raccoon, squirrel, dog and spider, all bizarrely swollen – comb Toronto for affordable housing, after their exodus from a cult led by health-nut Richard. DeForge’s latest resembles a Beckett play starring Pogo Possum, an absurdist shaggy-dog story that glances back to the city’s thriving alternative culture circa 1970 (the animals end up squatting outside a Rochdale College stand-in). DeForge diagnoses the appeal and the anguish of life in any community where utopian ideals give way to desperate impermanence.
As the 2016 U.S. election approaches, construction sub-contractor Mark and his wife Lisa have separated, bickering over their responsibilities to their two kids. The artist anthropomorphizes these all-too-human characters into hangdog canines – a distancing effect, as though the emotions on display are too raw to access directly. In sombre, grey-blue tones, Sturm captures the wintry, desolate mood of a world with Donald Trump ascendant. Powerless to effect change, facing down foreclosed futures, everyone in Sturm’s book feels, as the President is so fond of saying, “like a dog.”