April 25 to June 30, 2013
Koffler Gallery Off-Site
Epic Condominium Development, 48 Abell Street
Along south side of construction site, in walkway west of Abell
Curator: Mona Filip
Often integrated into civic spaces, the artworks of Toronto artist Corwyn Lund create dynamic relationships between the body and the built environment. Word Count, Lund’s latest site-specific project for the Koffler Gallery Off-Site, attempts to memorialize a fleeting moment within Toronto’s unrelenting urban redevelopment.
Word Count takes the form of a written proposal, for an unrealized and unrealizable video, that is installed on the hoarding surrounding the Epic Condominium construction site at the core of the West Queen West Triangle. Lund’s installation takes a queue from urban development proposals that must be prominently displayed on site, but follows the format and length set out by Canadian art councils for media arts grant applications. In so doing, the project wittily connects the equally bureaucratic sides of artistic and architectural production.
The large-scale text piece mounted on the hoarding describes a proposed video documenting a lone ice-skater gliding across a frozen pond momentarily created by rain and freezing conditions within the excavation pit where the 48 Abell building once stood. Demolished in winter 2012, this former three-story warehouse had served for decades as studios and unsanctioned affordable housing for artists, its redevelopment marking a new era in live/work spaces for Toronto artists.
The ice rink at the heart of Lund’s proposal, which materialized as pristine skating surface only for one weekend, was impossible to record on video as the artist planned, due to its ephemeral nature. Reflecting on its relevance in hindsight, the construction-site-as-ice-rink, encircled by newly built condominiums in the heart of Canada’s largest city, offered an unexpected poetic reprieve in the course of urban history. The video would have poignantly positioned the unplanned rink as the threshold between the old and new – the open grave of the 48 Abell building and the birthplace of the new construction.
As the video of the 48 Abell Street Ice Rink could not be realized, Lund resorts to an alternative strategy for sharing this poetic moment. Avoiding the static inadequacy of photographs or drawings, he chooses to translate his vision into words – a process familiar to professional Canadian artists seeking grant funding to realize their ideas in visual or physical form. The durational unfolding of the text being read across the hoarding’s extensive length re-invests the written translation of the video with temporality and site-specificity. Wrapped around the site, the installation serves to remember a passing moment in Toronto history, as fleeting as melting ice.