Views From Afar

The Power Plant gallery calls on IN­TER­NA­TIONAL artists to SHARE their in­sight on CANADA’S sesqui­cen­ten­nial AN­NIVER­SARY.

S/ - - THE LIST - BY NATASHA BRUNO

Through­out 2017,

Toronto’s The Power Plant gallery has ded­i­cated its en­tire ex­hi­bi­tion pro­gram to re­flect upon Canada’s 150th an­niver­sary. Its winter sea­son in­vited vis­i­tors to con­sider those who lived be­fore the coun­try’s Con­fed­er­a­tion in 1867, and sum­mer ex­plored mi­gra­tion and the iden­ti­ties that came to pop­u­late the na­tion to­day. Now this fall, the con­tem­po­rary art space in­ves­ti­gates how the past and present no­tion of a coun­try af­fects our col­lec­tive fu­ture by invit­ing artists from abroad to present their take on Cana­dian history.

“Our man­date has al­ways been about invit­ing in­ter­na­tional artists to present work in dia­logue with their Cana­dian peers and au­di­ences,” says Gaë­tane Verna, The Power Plant’s

di­rec­tor. “As such, we de­cided to in­vite artists that are ad­dress­ing press­ing is­sues fac­ing our world to­day, and which we con­sider im­por­tant to dis­cuss to­day in Canada and be­yond.”

The Power Plant has com­mis­sioned UK artist Michael Landy–who fa­mously de­stroyed all 7,226 of his pos­ses­sions back in 2001 as a rad­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion of con­sumerism–to pro­duce a site-spe­cific art­work based on public sub­mis­sions us­ing both sides of the gallery’s skylit cen­tral cor­ri­dor known as the Fleck Clerestory.

Over the sum­mer, Landy re­ceived textbased images from the com­mu­nity in­clud­ing news head­lines, lo­gos, and slo­gans, and in­stalled them on the Fleck Clerestory’s walls. “Through­out the du­ra­tion of the ex­hi­bi­tion, Landy will con­tinue to re­ceive sub­mis­sions, al­low­ing the project to grow and evolve,” re­veals Verna. The artist’s goal is to cap­ture Toronto’s so­cial and po­lit­i­cal landscape and of­fer a space for the re­ac­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences of in­di­vid­u­als.

Known for us­ing sculp­ture, per­for­mance, in­stal­la­tion, and pho­tog­ra­phy to ex­plore the nu­ances of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Lon­don-based Ar­gen­tinian artist Amalia Pica oc­cu­pies a neigh­bour­ing gallery space. The artist has cre­ated card­board re­con­struc­tions of con­crete acous­tic radars found along the coast­lines of Denge, Kent in the UK. Built back in the late 1920s and early 1930s to pre­empt aerial at­tacks by de­tect­ing in­com­ing sound, th­ese struc­tures now stand as rem­nants of a dead-end tech­nol­ogy.

Pica re­ac­ti­vates them in the con­text of The Power Plant lo­cated at Toronto’s Har­bourfront, a down­town neigh­bour­hood en­veloped by the sound of air­planes from the ad­ja­cent Billy Bishop Toronto City Air­port. By mak­ing th­ese dated tech­nolo­gies out of card­board–a ma­te­rial that ab­sorbs sound–Pica high­lights the use­less­ness and short-lived qual­ity of the historic struc­tures, and the con­stant rein­ven­tion and re­think­ing of com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems once they fail.

The fall ex­hi­bi­tion will also show­case Pica’s past work In Praise of Lis­ten­ing (2016), a se­ries of large-scale floor sculp­tures in the shape of giant hear­ing aids made of mar­ble, gran­ite, and soap­stone. “This work speaks to the im­por­tance of dia­logue and lis­ten­ing, in times where the world seems to grow in­creas­ingly re­luc­tant or un­able to do so,” ex­plains Verna.

The ex­hi­bi­tion “Ur­ban Now: City Life in Congo (2016)”, by Con­golese pho­tog­ra­pher Sammy Baloji and Bel­gian an­thro­pol­o­gist Filip De Boeck, starts on the main floor and con­tin­ues up­stairs, com­plet­ing the fall pro­gram. Con­structed as a large vis­ual es­say con­sist­ing of 55 new com­mis­sioned pho­to­graphs and two films, the duo ex­plore dif­fer­ent ur­ban sites in the African coun­try of Congo–cities who in­creas­ingly reimag­ine new fu­tures for them­selves, yet are punc­tu­ated by re­cur­rent break­down. “We thought it would be im­por­tant to also look at the con­se­quences of the colo­nial past in Africa,” says Verna. “This show of­fers an artis­tic in­ves­ti­ga­tion of what liv­ing–and liv­ing to­gether–might mean in Congo’s ur­ban worlds, and per­haps prompt a reflection on ex­ist­ing and co-ex­ist­ing in our own world.” The Power Plant’s fall ex­hi­bi­tion sea­son is on view from Septem­ber 29th un­til De­cem­ber 31st, 2017, with the Michael Landy ex­hibit run­ning un­til May 13th, 2018.

Clock­wise from top: Sammy Baloji’s Ur­ban Now: City Life in Congo, 2016. Michael Landy’s Out of Or­der, 2016 in­stal­la­tion for Mu­seum Tinguely in Basel, Switzer­land. Amalia Pica’s In Praise of Lis­ten­ing, 2016. Baloji’s Ur­ban Now: City Life in Congo, 2016. Baloji’s Ur­ban Now: City Life in Congo, 2016.

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