ART in stor­age

Pro­ject re­turns to Junc­tion-area fa­cil­ity to dis­play im­mer­sive, but tiny in­stal­la­tions

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - CHRIS HAMP­TON

The first time Art Spin threw an ex­hi­bi­tion in­side the old Viceroy Rub­ber fac­tory on Dupont St., the build­ing was in the process of be­com­ing a self-stor­age fa­cil­ity. It was 2010, and cu­ra­tors Rui Pimienta and Layne Hin­ton (then, also with sis­ter Casey Hin­ton) pre­sented the work of 20 or so artists in the va­cant 10,000-square-foot ware­house.

In its 10th year of pro­gram­ming, the or­ga­ni­za­tion, ded­i­cated to ac­ti­vat­ing un­der­used spa­ces with site-spe­cific art shows, has re­turned to the same Junc­tion-area fac­tory. To­day, lock­ers are be­ing pre­pared for re­moval; its floor plans have been re­drawn to ac­com­mo­date com­mer­cial of­fices and stu­dios.

The build­ing — or at least part of it — is now in the process of un-be­com­ing a stor­age fa­cil­ity. And this presents a rare op­por­tu­nity for Art Spin to re­visit a space be­fore it trans­forms a sec­ond time.

Hold­ing Pat­terns, a free ex­hi­bi­tion run­ning through Oct. 21, in­cludes the work of 20 artists and artist teams in­stalled in stor­age units across three floors of the fa­cil­ity. The ti­tle refers to the plight of the lo­cal cre­ative com­mu­nity, like many ur­ban pop­u­la­tions, driven by mar­ket forces in search of af­ford­able rent and real es­tate. Hin­ton and Pimienta asked artists to re­spond to the stor­age locker, whether as pro­vi­sional spa­ces, repos­i­to­ries for trash and trea­sure, or em­blems of tran­si­tion.

In­stead of flee­ing the core for suit­able venues, Art Spin has de­cided to chart a dif­fer­ent course, ac­ti­vat­ing not 10,000 square feet this time round, but one three-by-five-foot space (good for golf clubs, lug­gage and skis, ac­cord­ing to the Planet Stor­age web­site) af­ter an­other.

“I’d rather see us adapt cre­atively,” Hin­ton says, “and find ways of sur­viv­ing in ar­eas that we’re in­ter­ested in, rather than just be­ing pushed out and giv­ing up.” The hold­ing pat­tern per­haps can be dis­rupted.

Here are a few things wait­ing in stor­age:

Jess Lin­coln, Detri­tus Sa­lon

Toronto-based artist Jess Lin­coln paints the con­tents of her house­mates’ shared stor­age closet — an ex­tra shower caddy, a sou­venir Obama tote bag, and the branches of an ar­ti­fi­cial Christ­mas tree, for ex­am­ple — like the mas­ter­works of a Beaux-Arts Sa­lon ex­hi­bi­tion, trimmed even with gold wood­work and car­pet pat­terned in some­thing like acan­thus leaves. It is a pre­pos­ter­ous tribute to the items we each hold onto for who knows why. It makes ab­surd our pri­vate hoard­ing habits.

Ser­ena Lee, It Wasn’t the Fire A dis­play of un­worn white T-shirts, stacks of VHS tapes with hand­writ­ten la­bels, and three or­ange trees that have never borne fruit — the in­stal­la­tion by Toronto-based artist Ser­ena Lee is com­prised of a se­lec­tion of items left be­hind by her late grand­fa­ther. His “es­tate,” she calls it. The quo­tid­ian wares piled, stacked and fanned here and there ap­pear typ­i­cal of a stor­age locker, though their sen­ti­men­tal value is known only to Lee and her fam­ily. “I wanted to use a se­lec­tion of things that ap­pear in rep­e­ti­tion, that were hoarded and hardly used, as th­ese de­pict a cer­tain so­cioe­co­nomic re­al­ity par­tic­u­lar to some­one who came from a vil­lage and brought the un­ceas­ing feel­ing of loss and scarcity with their ex­pe­ri­ence.” Roula Parthe­niou, Oc­cu­pant Roula Parthe­niou’s artist state­ment be­gins with the lyrics of a Tom Waits song, “What’s he build­ing in there? What the hell is he build­ing in there?” Be­hind the locker door, vis­i­tors en­counter an un­re­mark­able scene as far as stor­age clos­ets go: a coiled ex­ten­sion cord, a tool box, some generic clean­ing prod­uct, a jar of nails spilled on the floor, boxes stacked in one cor­ner and a broom rest­ing against the wall. Some­thing isn’t quite right though. All of the items are, in fact, hi-fi knock­offs man­u­fac­tured in MDF, cop­per and paint. Parthe­niou’s work reg­u­larly in­ves­ti­gates how we read ob­jects in re­la­tion to one an­other. The col­lec­tion she’s lit­tered here make the be­gin­nings of a good mys­tery story. What the hell is he build­ing in there? Valentin Brown, Uniden­ti­fied Re­mains One thou­sand fleshy, earthen forms fill emerg­ing artist Valentin Brown’s locker. Re­sem­bling sex or­gans, ver­te­brae and teeth, they ap­pear both fa­mil­iar and alien. The clay they’re mod­elled from re­mains un­fired; it’s thus mal­leable and frag­ile. “All that in-be­tween-ness is tense,” Brown says, “and not un­like the ten­sion I feel as a trans­gen­der man.” Uniden­ti­fied Re­mains al­lows him to ex­press the “si­mul­ta­ne­ous feel­ings of alien­ation and be­long­ing.” The sorts of things that wind up in stor­age lock­ers share that feel­ing of alien­ation and be­long­ing, he says. “They only be­long in the locker be­cause they don’t be­long any­where else.” Palacit De­sign Stu­dio, Ago­ra­po­ria In mir­rors and re­peat­ing arch­ways, part­ners Tris­tram Lans­downe and Tom Ngo of Palacit have built an il­lu­sion: the agora, or the an­cient Greek town square, re­stored in­side a tiny locker. While the stor­age fa­cil­ity is generic, the town square is a land­mark. While the locker is pri­vate, the agora is pub­lic. The work — like Art Spin’s ex­hi­bi­tion — in­vites com­mu­nity where it doesn’t com­monly gather.

STEVE RUS­SELL PHO­TOS TORONTO STAR

Jo­hannes Zits in his dis­play called Ex­cess.

Jess Lin­coln’s Detri­tus Sa­lon makes ab­surd our pri­vate hoard­ing habits.

STEVE RUS­SELL PHO­TOS TORONTO STAR

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