Look behind storage locker doors to discover immersive art projects...
OCTOBER 11 - 21, 2018
1655 DUPONT st.
Curated by Layne Hinton and Rui Pimenta
Presented by Art Spin in partnership with TAS
Holding Patterns, an exhibition curated and presented by Art Spin transformed the Planet Storage facility at 1655 Dupont St. from October 11th - 21st. The exhibition, presented in partnership with TAS animated a series of storage lockers with commissioned and site-specific art projects.
Recognizing the shifts and upheavals often associated with storage lockers, Holding Patterns explores movement, space, belonging, material culture, and transition. The exhibition investigates consumerism and the glorification of materialism, and touches on forms of marginalization in reference to issues of site-lessness, connoted by storage facilities. Storage lockers often house a unique range of objects from the precious to the useless, their contents acting as a metaphor for memory and forgetting, or the conscious and unconscious. Drawing together these varied realities of space, storage, excess, and access, Holding Patterns examines not only the personal stories, but the histories of urban development and community migration that accompany them.
In 2010 Art Spin presented their first-ever group exhibition in the same industrial building where Holding Patterns will be presented, animating a 10,000 sq ft. space. This time they opted for a smaller footprint through a series of 5x5 to 10x20 units, and were excited to revisit this building in their tenth year of programming.
Holding Patterns invites viewers to rethink the banal, ubiquitous storage locker; to look deeper into the idea of ‘self storage’. For anyone that has used them, these generic spaces provide a context for an unintended act of self-curation. They are typically populated with all manner of objects, ranging from the precious to the useless; that which we hold on to and remember, as well as what we keep stored but perhaps would rather forget. These are spaces in which we confront and negotiate the very meaning of value itself. They are vestibules of stuff, an ode to the insatiable and self-perpetuating dynamics of material and consumer culture. The storage locker serves as a living metaphor for memory itself, a liminal space where our conscious and unconscious meet.
The storage locker’s utility is located in transitional moments, or what the storage industry bluntly refers to as the Seven D’s: Death, Divorce, Disaster, Delay, Dislocations, Deliveries and Densification. It is a space that connotes upheaval, displacement, even sitelessness. These qualities echo states of marginalization and vulnerability, ideas this exhibition invites you to unpack as you wander its maze-like hallways and look behind its locker doors.
- Layne Hinton & Rui Pimenta
Mitchell Akiyama & David Bobier presented by the Deaf Culture Centre, Kaitlyn Bourden, The Dream Video Project, Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea,
Jess Lincoln, Taimaz Moslemian & Naomi Dodds, Heather Nicol and Rebecca Campbell, PALACIT Design Studio, Roula Partheniou,
Lejb Pilanski & Sean Wainsteim, Michael M Simon, Catherine Telford-Keogh presented by Bunker 2,
Mitchell Akiyama & David Bobier presented by the Deaf Culture Centre
Alexander Graham Bell is best remembered by most for his propagation of voices via wires. But he also remains reviled by some for his zeal in promoting a world without deafness, a world in which vocal language would be the only vehicle for communication. A teacher of elocution and a eugenicist before his entrepreneurialism literally made his a household name, Bell crusaded against American Sign Language and deaf intermarriage, promoting an oralism that should extinguish deaf culture. Other Energies enacts a sedition of Bell’s program for oral primacy — one that included the development of technologies for making speech visible so as to teach the deaf to better articulate vocal sounds. Stripped of its significance, Bell’s voice vibrates with other potentials for communication. Low frequency vibration and light become carriers of haunted messages, receivers for other forms of calling.
Shifting Purpose is an installation that asks us to consider the value of material goods, and of memory. Stuck in storage, the stacked chairs in this work are locked in a permanent state of transition. Rarely seen
or considered, rubbery, as if impacted by the history of the space they occupy; the former Viceroy Rubber Plant.
The Dream Video Project
The Dream Video Project is a TV station/radio broadcaster/ live podcasting collective space where truths are told and realities invented. Think of the locker as a pirate radio station, public access TV station and “Speaker’s Corner” revival. This station is one stop on our ongoing relocation journey. Through a series of live interviews, video screenings, live filmings, recording projects and public activations, the storage locker is converted into a multi-media space for the documentation and dissemination of various stories of artist renoviction. Live in the dream, not the cloud.
Gustavo Cerquera Benjumea
Specimen visualizes a hybrid landscape experienced by Colombian refugee claimants in Canada, who are carrying their lives under the shadow of two possible outcomes as they wait for their migration status to be resolved. Using immersive projections and non-linear animation, Specimen turns this ambiguity into a dreamlike landscape where two realities clash and infect each other. The animation maps a journey from
Colombia to the United States to Canada; as the animation progresses, borders become blurred, time dilates, and new biology is created. Together, Colombia and Canada combine into a mutant backdrop inhabited by hybrid fauna and flora; an expression of how real-world anxieties can create ruptures in time and space. Specimen imagines this unstable future as a tangible place that is both monstrous and filled with potential.
Teeth, vertebrae, nipples, and his “peen”: Unidentified Remains is a cache of one thousand unfired clay objects that queer the human body to talk about being a transitioning transgender man. Not unlike the contents of a storage locker, the pieces of remains are tense with feelings of homelessness and transition. Each piece sits somewhere between plant and animal, male and female, living and dead. That they remain unfired allows the objects to be uncomfortably fragile and malleable at the same time. Just as storage lockers are a form of self-curation, where one chooses what goes in and what stays somewhere
else, the objects are also an act of self-curation, hinting at a range of body parts and yet never quite giving away their identity. Through the context of the storage locker, Unidentified Remains expresses the tension of having a transitioning transgender body and the relief of having some choice in how it changes.
Kristina Guison presented by SAVAC
WEATHER TO STORE
Weather to Store is a durational performance in three acts, purposely presented in no particular order. In each act a collection of objects is arranged and manipulated in a different way, and in three distinct spaces: a gallery, the outdoors and a self-storage container. The sequence of time, the utility of the objects and the designated spaces that these objects and actions occupy are displaced and disjointed, meditating on and revealing how context influences their shifting and
ACT 3: Outside
Weather to Store ends in a self-storage facility. The artist moves her objects for the last time into a storage locker. Opting out of preservationist logics of climate-controlled storage spaces, the artist performs the laborious process of weathering them artificially as an additive and depreciating performative gesture.
zau naan (走難)
(走難) (zau naan) is made up of the characters 走, “to run or to
leave” and 難, “difficult or difficulty”. Together, in Cantonese, it
means means “to escape from disaster” or “to run away from
zau naan (走難) is an immersive audio installation in which the
artist’s parents remember their past homes, recounting the
items they left behind when fleeing Vietnam in the 70’s. The
auditory nature of this project allows the artist to break a long-
standing silence surrounding her family’s past, giving her an
opportunity to explore the importance of her parents’ story in
shaping her own identity. In the absence of objects stored for
safekeeping, these spoken words are the only remnants of a
history lost to war.
Danielle Hyde presented by Creative Users Projects
Inter-ior(s): /Inner/(in) - mind external (dis)place.
Where does mind occupy the body and where does the mind abandon it? Challenging oft-held assumptions about the lived realities of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, this performance pulls back on the ritual patterns used to navigate daily life — acts of OCD — to create space for a more humanized understanding. The artworks in this project draw on fundamental elements found in nature to communicate
indigenous knowledges related to interconnectivity and the agency of non-human materiality. Inter-ior(s) seeks to utilize the properties and hidden lessons embedded in the concept of storage to address issues of invisibility and isolation.
It wasn't the fire
“My grandfather died this spring. Despite the fact that he left us nothing, we spent hours cleaning out his ‘estate’ - this installation is comprised of a selection of his things.
They bought the house in 1967 in what they now call ‘East Chinatown’; he barely left it towards the end. I always thought he’d go by burning the house down: he’d fall asleep with a lit cigarette and the TV blaring.
When he first immigrated and was living in Sudbury, his neighbour – a widow with three children – snapped one day and lit their shared house on fire; he lost the few things he had.
His story is not unlike others; like others, leaves a light mark. In Ban en Banlieue (2015) Bhanu Kapil writes: ‘As the text of a present moves so rapidly it cannot be written. This is why immigrants don’t write many
novels, only emigrants do. I write to you at night, for example, when even my body is hidden from view.’”
As we live more transiently and closer together, our stuff (and its attendant psychological baggage) needs a place to go too. The Detritus Salon documents one such place: a storage closet in the artist’s shared home. The closet is currently being used to store to an
overflow of stuff that no one is using, but that everyone is determined to hold on to just in case. A working kitchen needs only one cutlery tray, but each resident of the home has brought their own cutlery tray to the provisional collective. Since it is unknown when any one person might depart again, the excess trays vie for space in the much-contested storage closet, along with a million other objects of debatable usefulness. The Detritus Salon is a lush, playful and wistful shrine to the things we may someday need; a loving portrait
of our junk.
Taimaz Moslemian & Naomi Dodds
Where is my flashlight when i need it?
Comprised of field recordings taken at various self-storage locker auctions in Ontario, New York and Virginia, Where is my flashlight when I need it? is an examination of North America’s evolving consumer culture. Containing no palpable narrative per se, the installation reflects upon the incoherent jargon of the stereotypical auctioneer, juxtaposing banal office chatter, conventional dilemmas and formulaic regulations against the brutal realities associated with unpaid locker fees. By hyperbolizing the cultural and economical backdrop that brings together bidders, auctioneers, giant storage companies and (at times) subdued renters, Where is my flashlight when I need it? addresses the social pathology of capitalism by deploying the language that has developed in order to accommodate it.
Heather Nicol and Rebecca Campbell
Can't LET GO
Our memories are often some of our most prized possessions. Yet unlike the cherished physical objects we collect and often store for a future time, memories are fragile - simultaneously embodied and ungraspable. Sometimes, they can be vexingly elusive. Others, they can be invasive and difficult to navigate.
Sound and memory share many properties: invisibility, fluidity, intensity. Like sounds, memories can get “stuck in your head” - looping, recirculating - triggering pleasure, nostalgia, or disappointment. Experienced in the moment, a particular detail can evoke a complex web of thoughts and emotions that blur boundaries between the past, present and future.
Artist Heather Nicol has teamed up with musician Rebecca
Campbell to explore the twin territories of sound and memory
through the lens of love and longing. Their immersive,
interactive audio installation employs popular music and a
PALACIT Design Studio
Agoraporia takes up the themes of dislocation and modern consumerism by creating both a contrast to, and an extension of, those phenomena. Contemporary storage lockers are essentially non-places, both siteless and semi-virtual. These spaces are so stripped down in material and appearance that being inside them feels like being inside a digital modelling program. This installation contrasts and articulates this sitelessness by creating a simple model of an ancient meeting place - the Agora, or ancient Greek town square. Pointing to a desire for community in an anonymous, transitional and
mechanical environment, Agoraporia’s simple repeating archways reach back towards classical architecture while echoing the repeating doorways of the storage locker.
“What’s he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?
I heard he has an ex-wife in some place called Mayor’s Income, Tennessee
And he used to have a consulting business in Indonesia
But what’s he building in there?
He has no friends but he gets a lot of mail
I bet he spent a little time in jail
I heard he was up on the roof last night, signalling with a flashlight
And what’s that tune he’s always whistling?
What’s he building in there?
What’s he building in there?
We have a right to know.”
~~ Tom Waits, 1999
How can spurious narratives arise from only partial information?
How does our brain fill in the blanks? Presenting a collection of
objects meticulously replicated by the artist using acrylic paint
on MDF, wood and copper, Occupant asks the viewer to draw
connections between disparate objects, while alluding to the
sometimes nefarious ways that storage units are put to use.
Lejb Pilanski & Sean Wainsteim
Zei Gezunt // Keep Well
Lejb Pilanski, a 98 year old holocaust survivor, refugee and sweatshop worker, constructs functional utilitarian objects out of old and discarded scraps. By turns emotional, inventive and playful, ZEI GEZUNT // KEEP WELL is an installation that explores a refugee’s journey through his constructed objects, as photographed and curated by Lejb’s grandson, filmmaker Sean Wainsteim. Each photographed object is paired with a handwritten quote from Lejb that adds context, depth and humour.
Lejb’s transformed scraps of displaced objects are stand-ins for the resourcefulness of immigrants and survivors, showing how we must create new ways of moving forward out of pieces that remain. His creations all serve a purpose. They are made to work. And they are all works in progress - continually transforming. Far from being somber, they are joyful and inspirational, inventive testaments to healing. At heart, the project exists as an intergenerational journey of knowledge
between grandfather and grandson through objects and artifacts.
Michael M Simon
In a corridor of identical steel doors, an ominous light beams out from beneath one. Approaching it, you think “What’s in there?”
But this box is empty. Physically at least. In here, there is only light, truckloads of light. Light fills every crevasse of this otherwise mundane storage unit. You squint. It’s hard to see. Could what’s behind those doors ever be as exciting or bizarre as what we’re capable of imagining?
Inner Light plays on our insatiable human curiosity, representing an attempt to hold onto something fleeting, inanimate, impossible. Amplifying the murmurs that lay dormant within these corrugated metal boxes, the installation reflects the less tangible collection of stuff, junk and things that takes up space inside our own minds.
Catherine Telford-Keogh presented by Bunker 2
“Thirteen years earlier, in September, The Conglomerate’s nationwide
mandate replaced Greeters with Customer Hosts, who embodied the guiding principles of corporate affect. Hopalong Cassidy, “Hops” for short, fully internalized the spirit of this new role, greeting each customer who entered those glass double doors with pleasant platitudes and praise. The transference from Host to Customer or from Commodity to Shopper, is like the process of osmosis here, taking place through seemingly inert matter, such as Naturally Smoked Pepperoni (Mini Peps), the digital image or granite. For Hops, each shopper represented the attrition of her own life. She knew it was only a matter of time before her body, slackened and riddled with illness, would succumb to the pull of gravity and time. Though bleached and penniless from years of service, Hops’s hope was renewed when she graduated from Host to Brand Ambassador for The Conglomerate’s new chain of expanding mobile retail establishments. She had arrived, drink in hand, wearing tongueless shoes with no laces and stared through her murky contacts at the vast, soupy mess that was the foundation of this dank place. Hops knew it was only a matter of time before the mobile business metastasized into something akin to the inside of a Bed Bath & Beyond.”
SoftFocus® is an imagined mobile retail establishment where objects, images and employee snacks merge with their mechanisms of display or containment.
aislinn thomas presented by Tangled Art & Disability
three windows is an invitation to slowness and a more receptive mode of being. The project proposes that there is value in bearing witness to even the simple and banal.
These pieces grow out of a body of work that seeks to playfully reclaim domestic space as a site of imagination and possibility, even (and especially) when it is not where one would prefer to spend their time. The video presents windows in the artist’s home: sites of permeability, exchange, and chance. Though at times subtle, the movement of the curtains and glow of light is oddly mesmerizing, and reminiscent of breath.
Three writers were asked to respond to the video by creating an alternative audio description that functions as a piece in itself. Anna Bowen, Laura Burke and Catherine Frazee have crafted rich and nuanced works that push the conventions of audio description, mining the imaginative and poetic potential of this act of sensory translation.
In overlay no. 2, a roll of white compressed foam packaging material is uncoiled upon itself and suspended through the storage unit. This banal substance, whose usual purpose is merely to protect our stored possessions, becomes the centre of attention - inverting the material’s relationship to space, to its own function, and to the viewer. Within the narrow confines of the storage unit, the packaging material appears free and uninhibited, its volume and fluidity creating an uncanny experience. When afforded the space to transform, the mundane can become something else entirely.
Excess is a durational performance piece that addresses our complex relationship with consumer capitalism, the culture of materialism, and labour. Over the course of a nine-day period, Johannes Zits will interact with a stockpile of clothing, responding to notions of excess, waste, and fast fashion. His work harnesses the agency of the performative body to explore the relationship between personal and
public, and the various constructs of that relationship. Employing elements of spontaneity and chance, the artist uses self-imposed limits and restrictions as a means to confront the audience with their own implicit beliefs.
All photos by Priam Thomas