Posts Tagged ‘Power Plant Contemporary Art’

It’s been a while since I posted here mostly because I’ve been away.  But I’m back in Toronto and back to walking.  The other day didn’t start as planned!  A locked gate stood in my way.

winter scene, base of Bathurst street by old Canada Malting Co silos, black gate to Ireland Park path is locked, snow, bench,

Shortly after, I saw a sign …. I’m not sure that it references locked gates specifically, but at the minimum it’s a reminder to remain flexible.

an art installation on the exterior wall of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, words in pink letters written over an river landscape scene. the words say If you end up with the story that you started with, then you're not listening along the way.

As anyone Canadian city dweller knows, winter in the city rarely means white snow – the brown slush quickly takes over.   Here, at Spadina and Queens Quay, the road has been painted red to alert drivers to the fact that this is a streetcar lane.

new TTC streetcar turning left from Spadina to Queens Quay, slushy streets after snowfall, people waiting at bus stop,

Lake Ontario has only begun to freeze, and only in quiet protected places.  The first part of January was warmer than usual.  Even as I type this it is raining and all the snow is melting.  There probably isn’t much of this ice left this afternoon.

a couple of boats docked at wood docks, lakefront, waterfront, some thin ice in patches on the water between the shore and the boats. Lake Ontario

below: A “Danger due to” sign that has blown in from somewhere else but is just as relevant here as it is at any construction site.

Toronto red tug boat in the water with brocken bits of ice in the water, also a red and white danger due to sign that has fallen onto the ice of Lake Ontario

below: The Music Garden hibernating for the winter.

along the waterfront, view of CN Tower, with sculpture and dead or hibernating plants at Music Garden

below: Kayaks at Harbourfront resting for the winter months.

red, orange, and yellow kayaks on the ground for the winter, mostly covered with snow

below: The fire rescue boat was out and about the other afternoon.

yellow umbrellas and painted muskoka chairs in the snow at H T O beach, with red fire rescus boat just offshore

a large flock of sea gulls take flight beside Lake Ontario and in front of H T O beach

three people skating at an outdoor skating rink

Now on at the Harbourfront Centre is “Future Retrospectives” which is a group exhibition of works by artists and designers who use the past as a lens to look at the future (until 29th March).

below: The coloured shapes with the words, are the work of Hannah Claus.  They hang on a clear background so the installation on the wall behind shows through (also the work of Hannah Claus).  In fact, the two go together.  At first I thought the coloured shapes represented tombstones but in fact they are a replica of the plaque on Hochelaga Rock. This rock commemorates the village and people encountered by Jacques Cartier in 1535; it is on the McGill campus in Montreal.  It is also featured in the photos on the far wall. The English words (bottom half) start with “Near here was the…”.  More information.

Near Here was art installation or Harbourfront Artport gallery

below: Will we be able to understand a future time?  Also part of Future Retrospectives.

will we understand future time, video art with some other bits and pieces, Harbourfront Artport gallery

below: Timeless.  Eternity. Waiting for the bus.

three people at a bus shelter waiting for a bis, two are standing and one is sitting. They are underneath a large photo of stars and the night sky

below: This is ‘Loop’ an interactive “Winter Station” public art installation.  In past years, there have been 5 or 6 different art installations along Queens Quay as part of the Winter Station project.  This year, there is just this one which is located at York Street Park.   The circles are large enough for two people to sit face to face.  There is a metal bar which can then be moved back and forth between the pair.  This movement makes an inner circle spin and activates some lights.   It is the creation of Olivier Girouard ; it is scheduled to remain here until the 9th of February.

black circular structures that are part of an interactive art installation called Loop, arranged in a semi-circle at Yor Street Park, snow on the ground, trees with no leaves, no people there

below: Harbour Street, looking east towards Yonge Street from the elevated walkway that runs north from WaterPark Place, over the Lakeshore and under the Gardiner.

view east on Harbour Streeet from the walkway between Waterpark Place and Scotiabank Arena, construction of new high rises in the background, traffic,

below: Reflections on the walkway.

reflections of people walking in glass walled elevated walkway om downtown Toronto

below: After passing under the Gardiner, the walkway wraps around the west side of the second floor of the Scotiabank Arena (originally the ACC).

interior, Scotiabank Arena people on elevated walkway between Waterpark Place and Scotiabank Arena

below: The south entrance to Union Station, from the walkway.  This is also a good view of the new glass platform over Union Station (train shed roof?) – this is something that I need to check out in more detail.

Union Station entrance, a couple of people walking in front, Royal York hotel in the background, taken from elevated walkway beside Scotiabank arena

below: Also under renovation is the Bay Street exit of the Scotiabank Arena.  A new walkway between it and the building being constructed across the street is almost complete.  It is on the same level as, and immediately beside, the railway tracks.  This walkway will connect to the new Union Station bus terminal

from the inside, looking out, construction of the new exit, and new elevated walkway to building being constructed across the street

below: Exit onto Bay Street and look up!  Upward.  And to the future…. wherever that leads us.

looking up towards the sky at the Bay Street entrance to Scotianbank arena, wall of old arena, top of new building being constructed across the street,

Now at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is the exhibit “Age of You”. Part of the show is “The Extreme Self” based on a forthcoming book by Shuman Basar, Douglas Coupland, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, of the same name.   Large panels covering two floors of MOCA, lead the viewer through the storyline using graphics, pictures, and a lot of words.  Other works by other artists can be seen among the panels but the panels definitely dominate the space.

Why the title “Age of You”?  What is that all about?  As we increase are use of technology and our dependence on it, our data seems to have become important.   Information about our habits, likes & dislikes, online behaviour, etc. is now a valuable resource.  Our profiles and data can be used to create a model of  ‘you’.   Google knows where you’ve been if you have a smartphone.  They also have an advertising profile for you ostensibly so they can target their ads.  (Check the ads that they insert into these blog posts).  This technology advances faster than our ability to adapt to both it and its consequences.

below: “You’re now becoming your extreme self… and it’s happening to you as you read these words.

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, three panels. In the miiddle is a large picture of a woman's face with a single tear. Also some words. On the right is Too stupid to fail. On the left

Technology and its effects on people, individually and collectively, has been discussed since the advent of technology.  Often it is the negative effects that are discussed the most.  Today, we use the word “disruptive” to describe companies such as Amazon and Uber, companies that use technology to change the way we do business, and the way we interact with other people, and the way we go about our daily lives.

As I was thinking about technology and its effects, I remembered the Marshall McLuhan quote, “Every technology necessitates a new war”. When I looked up that quote (to make sure my memory was correct), I found this as well: “‘Any form of continued and accelerated innovation is, in effect, a declaration of war on one’s own civilian population.”

below: “We’re now deep into the terminal phase of democracy.  This phase involves voting in leaders whose primary goal is to dismantle democracy.”

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, Too stupid to fail,

below: Four panels. Four ideas in words in pictures.  “Groups of people make dreadful decisions.” “The majority can no longer be trusted.” “Democracy needs morning after pills.” and finally, on the right, a few sentences on the breakdown of reality-based consensus.

large panels hanging in an art gallery, MOCA, four in black and white

The exhibit references a quote by Isaac Asimov : “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’   But, can’t this be extended to ‘my scribbles are just as good as your fine art?’ And then along comes social media with its anonymity and global reach …. 

So what does all this mean for the future?

Is it art?

One can’t deny that it is thought provoking but part of the reason I asked, “Is it art?” is because of the heavy reliance on words and text.  It’s a book hung from the ceiling.  It also relies on quotes and ideas that originated elsewhere, words that that the artists have collected, not created.

Text is considered to be a design element but words have the added quality of conveying meaning.  Some images carry symbolism but only words can be manipulated into phrases and sentences with different meanings.   There seems to be a trend that involves the use of more text in art.  Art is now a “teaching moment”, like an essay (or book) laid out in a format that suits a gallery.  It’s not enough to be just looked at but it has to be educational too.

The next few pictures are from Vincent Meessen’s exhibit “Blues Klair” now on the Power Plant gallery.  It doesn’t deal with future like Coupland et al. above, instead it’s more a link to the past; it’s a history project.   This is the first paragraph of the words on the wall at the entrance to the exhibit:

words on the wall accompanying an exhibit by Vincent Meessen

A plea to all writers of such words:  Please stop. We’re not stupid but we’re also not ‘experts’ in the latest jargon and this just goes over our heads. …. I found a video on youtube of Vincent Meessen talking about this exhibit – and now it makes more sense.  It’s still a history project though.  It’s also a case, again, of the artist turning a collection of other people’s work into ‘art’.

two people looking at framed pictures and pages of text on a wall that has been painted in blue and white squares

blue and white papers strewn over the floor, discarded, with a framed picture on the wall, and a blue desk in the middle

Jumping back to the future – jumping to Hito Steyerl’s exhibit “This is the future” at the AGO to be more specific.   She too uses words.  And multimedia.  And she too pushes the limits of what art is.  (Or can you argue that those limits are long gone?)

below: Two parallel stories, one on top and the other below.   The upper story is about a community where windows are purposely broken, “people are smashing windows tirelessly to generate power”. The other story tells the opposite, windows are left alone and “police with big wooden horses are guarding every window”.  It turns what we believe about society upside down – the ‘good’ people who don’t break windows are living in a gloomy police state.  The ‘vandals’ have sunshine and art.

room at the Art Gallery of Ontario with words written around the walls, and a flat screen TV laying a video in the middle of the room

below: Hell Yeah.  Well okay then, if you say so.  It probably says a lot about me and/our times when my first impression is that it would make a great background for an instagram photo.   There are other blocks of words too (not in the picture) and the whole sequence is Hell, Yeah, We, Fuck, Die.  Why these words?  They are the “five words that have appeared most frequently in the titles of songs in English-language music charts over the past decade”.  And yes, I looked it up.

large blocks, lit from inside, put together to form the words the words hell yeah

And yes, I checked instagram….  The “L” does make a perfect seat!

composite of three photos of people that have been posted on instagram showing them at the Hito Steyerl exhibit hell yeah we fuck die at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Five words.  What do they mean? What five words would you use?

 

‘Age of You’ continues until 5th January 2020.

‘Blues Klair’ is at the Power Plant until 5th January 2020.

‘This is the future’ ends on 23 February 2020

‘Demonstration’ by Michael Landry
at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

Now showing in the narrow Fleck Clerestory is an installation that consists of a collection of red and white paintings on paper.  Each is a male and/or female shaped silhouette figure with a protest sign.    They are pinned to the wall, from top to bottom.   Every one has a different slogan, phrase and/or image on the placard they are holding.

below: Looking down on the Fleck Clerestory from the upper level.

red and white paintings of demonstration signs being held by stick figure men part of an art exhibit at fleck conservatory on both walls, looking down from the upper level to see whole exhibit, two women on the lower level looking at it.

The work has grown, i.e. more pieces have been added, since it was installed late in September.   Landry has been asking the public to contribute their thoughts and feelings which he then draws.  Over the course of the next few months, it will evolve and grow as more people submit their ideas and suggestions.   In the end there will be a “wall of protest”, or perhaps more aptly, it will be a snapshot of the hopes and concerns that we have.

below: Some of the issues addressed from the serious (stop fracking, end hate, no more marijuana arests, opioid overdoses) to the more lighthearted (such as ‘go topless day’, and ‘we the north’).

red and white paintings of demonstration signs being held by stick figure men part of an art exhibit at fleck conservatory

If you have an image, slogan, or words, and you want to participate in this project, check out the submission guidelines by following this link

red and white paintings of demonstration signs being held by stick figure men part of an art exhibit at fleck conservatory

below: “No pipeline” and  “lorsque les mots perdent leur sens, les gens perdent leur liberte”.

red and white paintings of demonstration signs being held by stick figure men part of an art exhibit at fleck conservatory - sign says no pipeline

below: “Stop premature Christmas decorating!”

red and white paintings of demonstraion signs being held by stick figure men part of an art exhibit at fleck conservatory - sign says stop premature Christmas decorations

The exhibit continues until mid-May.