Sunday August 12th, 1pm - 5pm
We were thrilled to set sail and try something new for Art Spin, trading in our bikes for the historic tall ship Kajama. This tour took our audience across Toronto’s inner harbour, around the beautiful islands, and a rare foray into the waterways of the Port Lands. Presented in partnership with Sidewalk Labs, the tour started with a small group ride at their hub at 307 Lakeshore Blvd E. and then proceeded to the Kajama.
In 2017 we took our curatorial inspiration from the waterfront, where we programmed 3 bike tours. After a year of programming by the water, we realized we had yet to explore water itself as a programmable space, and the opportunity to animate Toronto’s inner harbour, an under-utilized city space, presented a range of exciting and relevant curatorial possibilities .
From the sides of the boat, audiences came across art installations on land and performative interventions on water, plus an extra piece of programming presented by The Toronto Biennial of Art. Inspired by our waterfront surroundings, this tour explored a range of ideas around forced migration, the natural vs. re-naturalized waterways, and the fate of industry in the Port Lands, see all of the projects presented below.
Thank you to the Tall Ship Kajama, their captain, crew, and staff who worked with us to coordinate this event – something new and challenging for all of us. You think organizing an event with 400 cyclists is tricky? We know now that coordinating a tall ship can be much more challenging, yet oh-so rewarding.
Another thank you to Matt and the team at Pirate Life for giving us the opportunity to program on their theatrical ship.
Thanks to John Santos for providing all our AV equipment, to Allan Seymour at Ports Toronto for working with us to open the beautiful Cherry Street Bridge that allowed us passage into the Port Lands, and to Priam Thomas and Jamie A. M. for photo and video documentation of the entire event.
Thanks again to our volunteers for this event: Casey, Jess, Lamont and Nicola. This tour is made possible through the generous contributions from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.
Michael Louis Johnson, DJ General Eclectic, Jon Sasaki with Jarret Siddall, Nichola Feldman-Kiss (with Valerie Buhagiar, Leila Moslemi, Roula Said, Omneya Tollar), Bruno Capinan, Andrew Maize, Martin Reis, Jasmyn Fyffe, and speaker Nancy Gaffney
Sidewalk Labs, Toronto Biennial of Art, Tall Ship Kajama, Pirate Life, Ports Toronto
Performers: Valerie Buhagiar, Leila Moslemi, Roula Said, Omneya Tollar
"A siren is a caution and a lure – a beacon and a beckoning. Staged at the remote pier of Toronto Island’s Eastern Channel, a small group of women perform improvised ululations and spoken words in dialogue with the sonic landscape. While Siren is a sound installation inspired by the mythologies of seafaring folk and the calls of Ontario’s common loon, the artwork invokes contemporary geopolitical narratives of displacement and migration. Ululations are celebratory vocal expressions of feminine cultures of Africa and the Middle East, and are traditionally performed to welcome and clear paths."
– Nichola Feldman-Kiss
We approached Nichola to create an audio work for the Eastern Gap, with the idea of sirens in mind. As fate would have it, this is an idea she has already explored in her practice and was eager to present. The result is this newly commissioned and site-specific performative work that explores the push and pull of the foreign and the familiar. The improvised vocalizations of the performers came upon the boat as it
passed through the Eastern Gap, and followed us as we sailed away.
Special thank you to Lamont Abramczyk for his production assistance.
Martin de la Rue, the French Postman, is an interventionist and subversive performance art piece referencing the early film work of Jacques Tati. During the performances the artist seeks to interrupt people’s daily lives during public activities, at work or in the privacy of their home to deliver personalized fictions in outdated forms of communication such as Telegrams, Postcards and Letters. For the August
2018 edition of Art Spin, the artist intervened during an art boat tour of the Toronto Islands to deliver an intimate poetic love letter about the true nature of one of our planet’s most enigmatic elements: Water.
- Martin Reis
Upon re-entering the inner harbour, our tall ship was chased down by a small boat and then boarded by Martin de la Rue and accordion player Tangi Ropars. Martin was sent to deliver an important letter - a beautiful and poetic letter about water - to one of our audience members. Read the full letter here.
I sit inside the fear of these drastic changes
shifts, pulls, breaks,
swaying in the direction of the unknown
Layers of myself stripped daily
By the impediments of our raw human condition
To control, to gain power, to manipulate and the like.
Crumbling before me my soul fights for air
Where do I find it in here?
Drive me to madness
The uneasiness of change
Will I make it alive?
Will they accept me? Will I find empathy? Will I find anyone like me? Will they be
able to understand? Will I understand?
The fear consumes me
Filling me with anxiety and more fear
I hate this
I want it to be over
where is my place of rest
– Jasmyn Fyffe
This dance performance began with the opportunity to work with the Pirate Life ship, as we imagined it and the Kajama coming together on the water, one acting as a stage, the other carrying the audience. We approached Jasmyn Fyffe with this challenge, and in thinking about the history of tall ships, and conflicting relationships with water we discussed ideas of forced migration and displacement. Taking her cue from here, Jasmyn choreographed and performed this new work for our audience, and it was an incredibly moving and powerful way to end the tour.
Thank you to Matt and the whole crew at Pirate Life Toronto for their time and generosity, and to Nicola Protetch for giving her time to help coordinate.
OTHER PROJECTS & PERformances
with Jarret SiddalL
Folly (The fallen Smokestack)
"A 250 foot long inflatable “smokestack” coils, snake-like on Toronto's waterfront, writhing and heaving in an animated, almost life-like way. A representation of a depleted smokestack past its prime, it is slightly humorous, slightly pathetic, a little bit creepy and a touch menacing, as it appears momentarily on a shoreline once abundant with chimneys. This performance and installation re-imagines the manufacturing infrastructure that once featured prominently by the lake, but has since been replaced by other land uses such as leisure, residential, tourism and culture. It explores the changing fortunes of Toronto's “smokestack industry,” once hailed as a symbol of progress and prosperity, now laden with negative connotations, shuttled out of sight or shuttered entirely. Toronto dancer Jarrett Siddall collaborated on a movement score that activated the sculpture in conflicted, ambiguous and contradictory ways. He acted as custodian, victim, and master to it, dramatizing the complicated dyad of humanity and industry at the moment of passage between industrial and post-industrial epochs."
– Jon Sasaki
We were excited to situate this work by Jon Sasaki in an industrial area such as the Port Lands, particularly in the shipping channel where to enter we must open the Cherry St. Bridge and pass along a series of run down boats and piles of salt. The work was positioned along the Turning Basin, across the water from the old and new power generating stations and their smokestacks that still tower over the area, making a unique relationship between them and the deflated smokestack that was propped up through a performance by Jarrett Siddall.
Special thanks to Captain Gordon and his crew on the ship, who expertly navigated the boat into new territory, never before visited by the Kajama, for this project.
While the boat circled the south side of the Toronto Islands we put up the sails and coasted along to a beautiful musical performance by Bruno Capinan. With his shimmering mermaid-inspired outfit, Bruno serenaded the audience in Portuguese, and while not everyone may have understood, his song choices largely reflected idea of water and maritime themes. Bruno's performance was captivating, swaying with the waves and luring the audience with his heartfelt and soulful voice.
We were introduced to Bruno's music through the Small World Music Festival who invited him to play at our in/future festival at Ontario Place. Re-watch that in/future performance here.
Talk PRESENTED BY THE
TORONTO BIENNIAL OF ART
Nancy Gaffney, a waterfront specialist currently with the TRCA, shared information with our audience about the history of our waterfront and our relationship to it. As the boat floated down the shipping channel she discussed the formation of the Toronto Islands, the re-naturalization of the Don River and the old industrial history of our port. Conversations like this are important to think about the context of our event and programming, but also to consider our impact on the waterfront which is
still a natural habitat for many species of flora and fauna today.
Nancy's talk was programmed by our friends at the Toronto Biennial of Art, in advance of the city-wide art event they introduced to Toronto in the fall of 2019.
Photos by Priam Thomas.
Thank you to all of our volunteers, partners, collaborators and supporters who make Art Spin possible. Art Spin gratefully acknowledges the generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. Special thank you to our presenting partner for this tour, Sidewalk Labs, with additional programming presented by The Toronto Biennial of Art.