Posts Tagged ‘art installation’

The results of a walk on what was probably the last warm evening of the year….

people walking on Queens Quay at night

below: In Sir John A. Macdonald Plaza (that’s the space in front of Union Station by Front Street) is an art installation by Masai Ujiri, “Humanity Movement”.  There are 35 words that represent what humanity means to Ujiri – words such as compassion, love, selfless, collective that are repeated as they cover the eight foot high installation.  A light in the center makes the words appear on the sidewalk and on the structures (and people) around it.

Humanity movement art installation in Sir John A Macdonald Plaza in front of Union Station, by Masai Ujiri. metal cylinder with words cut out, a light shines through from the middle and the words show as lights on the sidewalk

well lit Sir John A Macdonald Plaza in front of Union Station, at night, with lit clock, sculpture and an art installation by Masai Ujiri

below: Inside the Great Hall at Union Station is an image titled “House of Baby” that is the result of a collaboration between Camille Turner and Camal Pirbhal.  It is a image of people in the Great Hall that includes portraits of 18 Indigenous and Black people who were enslaved by the Baby family.

a few people standing in front of an image called house of baby, a collage of people who were enslaved by the Baby family all gathered in Union Station

Francois Baby (1768 Detroit – 1852 Windsor Ont) and his brother James (1763 Detroit – 1833 Toronto) were politicians, businessmen and land owners.  Francois stayed in what was then the Western District of Upper Canada (around Windsor).   His biography is long and I’m not going to go into details here but he did have slaves.  James moved to York in 1815 and was part of the establishment – between 1792 and 1830 he held more than 115 appointments or commissions of varying degrees of importance.

In 1793 John Graves Simcoe, then Lieutenant Governor, tried to abolish slavery in Upper Canada but many of the ruling class, including James Baby, were slave owners and outright abolishment failed.  Instead there was a compromise made (how Canadian!) and restrictions were put on slave ownership such that by 1833 there were none left.  A much more complete history of slavery in Upper Canada can be found in an article at Upper Canada History.

close up of part of an image called house of baby, a collage of people who were enslaved by the Baby family all gathered in Union Station

below: On the York Street side of Union Station

York street side of Union station

below: On the PATH system at 25 York Street there is a mural that is 25 metres long (or 100 feet long); it is “Entire City Project” by Michael Awad, 2009.  It is a warped panorama of commuters outside Union Station.

part of a mural by Michael Awad of people moving together, most walking, one man with a bicycle

below: The lights hanging from the ceiling are another art piece.  “Pixel Matrix”, is a large cube of 30,000 individually controllable LED lights on strings, with constantly changing lighting effects.  It was a collaboration between Michael Awad and David Rokeby

 

interior of 25 York street with 2 art installations, the hanging glass and lights, and a long mural by Michael Awad

detail of Michael Awad Entire City Project mural of people walking in commute

lights shining through exterior glass walls, blue lights on a staircase

below: Making a kraken.  One tentacle can be seen in the foreground.

below: The kraken’s eye is a video that plays on a screen bulging from the container that can barely hold its contents.  Will the kraken escape?  Is Queens Quay safe?

making a Kraken art installation out of a metal container

below: Lights in motion

a man riding a bike at night with blue LED lights all over it. his helmet has lights too

below:  The art installations at 10 York Street look much different at night!

art installation in the lobby of a condo building on York street

below: Lights over the harbour, Queens Quay

bridge over harbour on Queens Quay, at night, with lights and reflections of light in the water

a couple, at night, standing outside on one of the wave decks on Queens Quay

the back of a large boat, at night, one light on the boat, ladder, blue ropes

entrance and exit to a parking structure at night

2 small plastic orange pylons sit on a ledge in a broken window with a green staircase behind inside the building

two men walking in lit passageway, inside, blue wall on left, carrying photo equipment and tripod

There are two public art exhibits now on display at Harbourfront’s Ontario Square.  The first is “Built on Genocide” by by Jay Soule aka CHIPPEWAR which is part of this year’s Luminato Festival ….  “In the mid-19th century, an estimated 30 to 60 million buffalo roamed the prairies, by the late 1880s, fewer than 300 remained. As the buffalo were slaughtered and the prairie ecosystem decimated, Indigenous peoples were robbed of their foods, lands, and cultures. The buffalo genocide became a genocide of the people” (quote source: Luminato website)

below: The centerpiece is a pile of Buffalo skulls.

a large pile of buffalo skulls, art installation, with glass and steel condos rising behind,

below: Surrounding the skulls are posters that highlight and criticize government policies towards First Nations including (Prime Minister) Sir John A. Macdonald and his “Magic Eraser”, i.e. the Indian Act of 1876.

people looking at large posters, part of art installation, built on genocide

below: The poster on the left references the adoption of First Nations children by non-Native families often referred to as the Sixties Scoop because it reached its peak (most adoptions) in the 1960s.  The plight of Indigenous women is the subject of the other poster – the disproportionate number of whom have been murdered or went missing.

2 posters, adoption of mass destruction, and I am a mother sister auntie grandmother, protest signs on indigenous rights and past Canadian history of abuses

a man on a bike and a woman with a large backpack standing in front of posters by Jay Soule on display outside at Harbourfront, Indigenous Rights, history of abuse, protest,

There is also a display of large photographs by Meryl McMaster.

below: What Will I Say to the Sky and the Earth II.

large photograph by Meryl McMaster on display at Canada Square at Harbourfont - woman standing in the snow

below: On the Edge of This Immensity

woman holding a small boat on her shoulders, lake in the background, large photograph by Meryl McMaster on display at Canada Square at Harbourfont

below: As Immense as the Sky

woman with back to camera on a rock ledge overlooking a green landscape large photograph by Meryl McMaster on display at Canada Square at Harbourfont

 

Refugees in a State Apartment, Jens Ullrich,
Photo exhibit, on a fence outside the Italian Consulate, Dundas West at Beverley.

Part of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

photos mounted along the exterior of a wrought iron fence around the Italian Consulate, right beside the sidewalk. The consulate is on old brick house (mansion) from the 1800's - 3 of the photographs, people walking past

Ullrich has taken found black and white photographs of the interior of a large home near Bremen Germany.  The photos were taken in the late 1920’s.    Each photograph is of a different room in the villa and to each picture Ullrich has added  one person.   If you knew nothing about the series, you wouldn’t know that the subjects were refugees.

In each photomontage, singular individuals are depicted—usually with their faces hidden from the camera—within empty yet elaborately fashioned spaces that emphasize their solitude and unstable status. “

photos mounted along the exterior of a wrought iron fence around the Italian Consulate, right beside the sidewalk. The consulate is on old brick house (mansion) from the 1800's - phot by Jens Ullrich of a woman refugee with her face obscured by clothing, sitting on a chair in the bathroom of a large bathroom. also a photo of a male refugee in another room, looking in a large mirror

One of the concepts behind this series of images was the desire to

respectfully capture the disparate emotions of these individuals and their precarious situations.”

photos mounted along the exterior of a wrought iron fence around the Italian Consulate, right beside the sidewalk. The consulate is on old brick house (mansion) from the 1800's - as seen from across the street with pedestrians walking past and cars driving past

photos mounted along the exterior of a wrought iron fence around the Italian Consulate, right beside the sidewalk. The consulate is on old brick house (mansion) from the 1800's - the photos are of refugees that have been photoshopped into old photos of the interior of the apartment of a wealthy person from the 1920's
#CONTACT16

I usually take a dim view of conceptual art largely because the importance given to the “words on the wall” has eclipsed the consideration given to the artwork itself.   Mediocrity in technique or creativity hides behind big jargon words and convoluted language in the artist statement.  Often the concept that the artist claims to be exploring is at odds with the end product.

When the art doesn’t live up to words that sound learned and meaningful then it degrades the work and makes the artist, and those curating the exhibit, seem pompous and out of touch.

For example, if you read that certain videos by an artist “cast a hitherto unexampled light on the conventional North American city”,  what would you expect to see?  Would you expect to see a video shot from a helicopter as it circled a city at night?  A video that looks familiar to anyone who has flown over a city after dark.   That’s what you get with Aude Moreau’s ‘The End in the Background of Hollywood 2015’ now showing at The Power Plant gallery.   I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a picture of three of her other photographs also on display.

below: From left to right (discounting the small picture farthest from the camera): 1. ‘Untitled (Hollywood Sign)’ 2015, 2. ‘LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department)’ 2015.  It’s a picture of a tiny helicopter in a large grey sky.  and 3. ‘Waiting for Landing’, airplanes lined up as they approach LAX airport.   Unfortunately, the words on the wall then go on to say, about these three images, “These demonstrate visual strategies that act upon the symbolic representation of the city and the spectacular dimension of the film industry.”  Oh my.

4 pictures hanging in a contemporary art gallery. One is a picture of the Hollywood sign taken just after dark, the next is a grey sky with a tiny dot of a helicopter in the middle, the third is too far away to discern, and the last is a picture of Los Angeles at night taken from a helicopter

And with that I left The Power Plant gallery.  Growling silently to myself and shaking my head with a mix of disdain and and frustration.   Imagine my surprise when once outside I encountered another of Moreau’s photographs.  A very lovely one.

below:  A picture of the Toronto skyline by Aude Moreau mounted on an exterior wall at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.  A picture with visual impact.

A photograph by Aude Moreau of the Toronto skyline as the sun starts to set, sunlight reflected off the buildings, darkening blue sky. The picture is mounted on an exterior wall and there is a tree in front of it as well as a couple of picnic tables

below:   You can play “spot the building” and test your knowledge of Toronto geography.   You can line up the DBRS building, the Hilton Hotel and the Canada Life building on University Avenue along with the Sheraton Hotel on Queen street.   The blue addition on the AGO is farther north on Dundas.  Can you think of where the photo was taken?  Apparently, it was taken from Toronto Fire Station 315 at College Street and Bellevue Avenue.  It was taken just after sunset but when there was still enough light in the sky to reflect off the taller buildings.   Moreau makes the city sparkle.

A photograph by Aude Moreau of the Toronto skyline as the sun starts to set, sunlight reflected off the buildings, darkening blue sky. The picture is mounted on an exterior wall and there is a tree in front of it

I must have seen this picture very shortly after it was installed.  It is part of the CONTACT photography festival that starts this weekend but there was no accompanying sign, no words that attempted to a explain the image.  Perhaps that was for the best.  In fact, I now have the CONTACT catalogue with their description of the artwork but I think I won’t read them.  I’d rather enjoy the picture just the way it is.

Wisdom of the Poor: Communal Courtyard,
an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong,
Art Gallery of Ontario

This installation is made from parts of 100 old wardrobes collected from traditional Beijing neighbourhoods, or hutongs, like the one in which Song Dong grew up in.  These neighbourhoods, and their communal way of life, are disappearing.

 

 

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
The pieces of the wardrobes are arranged with the backside towards the viewer.  The arrangement is such that you can not see the front side of most of the wardrobes.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
There are two circles of wardrobes that you can enter – where you can now stand in the courtyard so to speak.   The wardrobes become stand-ins for the fronts of houses that once faced onto courtyards in the old hutongs of Beijing.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections of a foot in one of the mirrors
A wardrobe was one of the items that the Chinese government provide to all families.  They are all similar yet different.  All have mirrors.  Most are made of the same colour wood and most have green curtains.  They all have little legs and they are all about the same height.
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
Wardrobes are personal articles and former owners have left their marks on many of them…. a different fabric in the window or a picture glued onto the wood.
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, door handles, key holes and a curtain that is a blue and white plaid and has musical notes on it.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, wardrobes arranged in a curved shape
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections

This installation also appeared in the Venice biennale in 2011 although the wardrobes were arranged differently.  For the exhibit at the AGO, there are a number of items that appear within the ‘courtyards’ created by the wardrobes.  For the viewer, these items can only be viewed through the windows of the wardrobes.  One of the items, below, is a series of three paintings of the Canadian ballerina Karen Kain.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections. through one of the windows there is a painting of Karen Kain on the wall

In another, bikes

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, through two of the windows there is a bike

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, door knobs and frosted glass and a white curtain

This installation remains at the AGO until 17 July 2016

5 lifeguard posts
5 art installations
5 places to sit and/or get out of the wind

All in one place – along the waterfront at Kew & Balmy Beaches
until 20 March 2015

1. Snowcone by Lily Jeon and Diana Koncan

Art installation that looks like a giant white pinecone on the beach in winter.  The inside of the parts of the cone are bright translucent coloured plexiglass

Looking from inside a dome shaped structure that is made of geometric shapes of coloured plastic, looking to the bright blue sky, with snow on some of the pieces of plastic.  Lots of bright colours.

From the inside of the Snowcone, looking up through the center.

 metal frame of a lifeguard stand surrounded by brightly coloured shapes of translucent plastic
2. Driftwood Throne by Daniel Madeiros

Beach in winter, snow, snow fence and lots of blue sky.  There is a wooden art installation that is also seating for those who want to sit and look out over the cold lake.

Lifeguard station that has been partially enclosed by a wooden structure.  Two people are sitting on the lifeguard chair with their backs to the camera

3. Sling Swing by Ed Butler, Daniel Wiltshire and Frances McGeown

The art installation, Sling Swing, in the breeze on a frozen snow covered beach.  It consists of large pieces of orange fabric slings hanging from a metal frame. One can use the slings as swings.

Two women sitting on the orange sling swings on a cold winter day at the beach

orange lovebot sticker inside an orange life ring on a lifeguard chair.  Pieces of orange fabric are draped around the chair.

4.  Wing Back by Tim Olson

Wooden structure on a winter beach between a snow fence and the lake

wooden structure on the beach in winter.   Part in painted red.  It is supposed to be a large chair, semi-circle, can seat a number of people.

5. Hot Box by Michaela MacLeod and Nicholas Croft

A large black box on a winter beach.  The box is large enough to fit several people inside it.

This one feels creepy inside. No windows. Interior walls form narrow passageways.