New Exhibition: Unrest Everywhere (Tools for Playing with Halifax)

Just back from an incredible week installing at Eye Level Gallery for our show, Unrest Everywhere (tools for playing with Halifax), which runs until May 12, 2012. The show features a number of multiples and interactive works, all of which are yours for the taking and borrowing.

The premise for the show was to create a series of works that could directly or indirectly suggest access points for re-encountering the city and your role within it. We created works that aimed to be highly distributable, playful, and allowed a bit of critical commentary on the ways in which a sense of place comes to be planned, articulated, and established.

Below is a huge pile of documentation of the process — but first — we’d like to extend a huge thanks to all staff and volunteers at Eye Level, especially Michael and Matt, and to Emily and Kaley for the place to crash!

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Grades for public infrastructure


Has this already been done somewhere? The idea of creating grade sheets for things in the city and then a space for comments or something? Might we take it on too?

This photo is of a page in the book Waking Up from the Nightmare of Participation, I think it’s a template of an evaluation form for an academic paper, by Melanie O’Brian of Meissen’s thesis, The Nightmare of Participation.

Urban Camouflage And The Potentials of Commissioned ‘Street Art’

Ceyetano Ferrer, City of Chicago (Iowa #2), 2006

Street artist Ceyetano Ferrer specializes in blending urban objects into their environments by painting layers over them in a way that makes them seem transparent. Ferrer uses photo stickers on public objects like street signs, boxes and billboards and camouflages them to create an illusion of the objects fading into the landscape. -via

The public art works of Ceyetano Ferrer are quite stunning on first glance. The optical illusion he creates seems at first impossible and mysterious, though the process is as “simple” as placing a well-planned sticker on to a surface. As far as “street art” goes, this very much falls in line with the guerilla style shock and awe that makes the genre so exciting and valuable in a certain sense of subversiveness.

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Making a Playful City

Dispatchwork by Jan Vormann

What would it take to make a city more playful? Everyone has had an experience at one time or another of encountering something strange, out of the ordinary, a seemingly serendipitous moment in a space that in turn transforms your experience and understanding of that location.

Urban interventions often aim to do just that — to shift one’s experience of a city street or infrastructure to offer a new perspective, a proposed alternate use, or to reveal complexities and power structures that are often embedded in everyday life. Interventions make a city more playful by suggesting a sense possibility, by hinting at the potential to experience place in a different way than we normally do. And really, we’re interested in those little hints, those suggestions of possibility for changing the things in front of you in an immediate way.

So, below, I’ve collected just a small handful of images of intervention work, or work that could translate to a more public space to great effect, in hopes that these things might spur some more activity here at home, though there certainly has been things happening.

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The Leona Drive Project

The Leona Drive Project Photo by  Ian Muttoo

Organized by The Public Access Collective in collaboration with L.O.T. : Experiments in Urban Research (Collective), The Leona Drive Project took six vacant bungalows set for demolition by HYATT HOMES, a developer in Willowdale, Ontario, and turned them into temporary sites for art interventions.

The project is already over, it was up for just the last week of October, but it looks like it was a huge amount of fun, and obviously drew parallels to our own Indian Road. From their site, “While the curators anticipate several sub-themes emerging from the individual artists, the overall problematic for the exhibition is the remarkable shift from the suburbs of old to the suburbs of contemporary Canada, namely the neighborhoods and precincts of the multicultural, but nonetheless parsed state. As such, the project will interrogate what has been lost in terms of the older identities and utopias, domestic, regional and national, and the concomitant transformations around issues of gender, race, class and what was broadly proclaimed as the good life.”

Late last spring, there was some discussion about putting together a proposal for The Leona Drive Project along with some other Windsor artists / thinkers, but we just couldn’t pull our idea into the right context for the project. Our idea involved working in some capacity with the houses on Indian Road. That idea, along with some other recent discussions about the potentials for other installations to occur on a series of vacant lots or the like, might just lead to something doable. Really, there are so many places around the city that could be the centre of an excellent conversation, we need to start addressing them, so be on the look out, or help us track down some landlords (landlords other than the Ambassador Bridge).

Bureau for Open Culture: DESCENT TO REVOLUTION

Audible Dwelling by Learning Site

Descent to Revolution, and exhibition / residency created by the Bureau for Open Culture, features five international artist collectives and collaboratives that use urban spaces and social spheres as means of production and inspiration. During the course of the exhibition, participating artists visit Columbus in a series of residencies to make projects specific to the city. The work does not take place inside the space of the gallery but in concert with community and physical mediums outside of it.

Contributing to the exhibition is Claire Fontaine, Learning Site, Red76REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT, and Tercerunquinto, and all will be working within some relation of the city of Columbus and its community.

Pictured above is Audible Dwelling by Learning Site, a combination loudspeaker and dwelling that responds, in part, to the proliferation of abandoned malls, parking lots, and housing in downtown Columbus. Audible Dwelling is situated in a parking lot on CCAD’s campus. During their dates of residency visitors follow the arrows on the floor out the gallery door to visit Audible Dwelling, to experience it by listening and by leaving a story that is eventually projected into public space via loudspeaker.

Will there by time for a road trip to Columbus???

This project is really exciting to see for a number of reasons, maybe the top one being that it’s nearly exactly what I wish we could do… I wish we had the money to do something as large-scale as this, or even money just to pay for materials for projects we’d like to realize through a program like this. For now though, our Micro-Residency project is getting some great submissions, and hopefully we’ll be kicking it off in the next few weeks, and doing a bunch of amazing things for free.

[via Art&Education mailing list]

Green Sleeves


A few people emailed us about this project (thanks for that!!) and I’ve since seen it on a number of other blogs, so it’s about time I got around to posting it on here. Green Sleeves by AT.AW uses a simple pattern to create planters from the layers of old wheat pasted posters.

The method is great—looking around the city (in this case, Toronto) and understanding the specificities that create opportunities for intervention in the city. The results seem to be a mixed bag, in terms of plants surviving longer than 24 hours; in some cases, the plants are stolen, dry out, or are torn down for more posters.

The project is generating a dialogue and for that it is successful and it may be able to translate better to a city where its illegal postering community is less vigilant.

[via Torontoist]

Lucy Howe’s Wilt

Wilt by Lucy Howe

As part of the Green Corridor‘s Open Corridor festival, Windsor’s Lucy Howe installed a series of wilted road signs, entitled Wilt. The signs themselves reiterate the bend, or wilt, in its respective sign pole and simultaneously comments on some of the many issues surrounding this stretch of road, and the kilometer or so to its north. The signs were originally installed as pictured above, but shortly after their installation, a City of Windsor truck came by to take them down.

Thankfully, the signs were recovered before being carted away and are now installed on the Northeast corner of Huron Church and College.

Howe’s work has an incredibly fun way of intervening with infrastructure and the everyday. All of the work is amazingly labour intensive, but so expertly pulled off that it can make you continually guess at its sincerity in the best way possible. If you’ve been to the AGW lately, you would have seen her work—a drooping chair and melting wall on the second floor as part of the Biennial.

Howe has another work in her archives that I’m hoping she’ll work on again, if the right place can be found. The work involves reshaping a chain link fence’s form and function, how could I not be in love?

Making the Signs for Naturalized Areas


We recently decided to demarcate some of many accidental meadows across Windsor with these Naturalized Area signs. In hopes that these signs might momentarily allow residents of Windsor to look at these naturalized spaces for what they are—that is, wonderful additions to our urban landscape—instead of the result of a politically-charged issue, we spent the earlier part of this week designing the signs, getting them printed, drilling holes, and installing them.

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