April 22 to May 30, 2010
Koffler Gallery Off-Site
Kiever Synagogue, 25 Bellevue Avenue
Curator: Mona Filip

Auguststrasse 25 is the first visual arts solo exhibition by accomplished Toronto-based sound artist and composer for film and theatre E.C. Woodley. Developed for the Koffler Gallery Off-Site, this multi-media installation engages the interior of one of the city’s oldest synagogues, the Kiever. Recreating a living-room typical of a Jewish home from 1920’s Germany inside the historic sanctuary, the project initiates a convergence of past and present, while bringing together the secular, domestic environment and the sacred space of worship.

Auguststrasse 25 is the latest in a series of off-site exhibitions for the Koffler Gallery. Watch for Koffler Gallery exhibitions in unexpected places all around Toronto over the next few years as the Koffler Centre of the Arts prepares for its brand new 40,000 square foot arts and cultural centre anticipated to open on Sherman Campus in 2014.

With ambient sounds and an actor’s presence animating the setting, Auguststrasse 25 recalls the daily cultural life of a lost past and embodies an intricate dialogue between absence and presence. An elaborate arrangement of radio broadcasts and echoes of the neighbours’ activities provide a subtle backdrop for the mundane gestures reenacted daily by the resident of a hybrid space between homes, communities and generations. Through its title, the piece recalls a flourishing Jewish street in pre-Holocaust Berlin, while also evoking the name of Augusta Avenue, situated just around the corner from the Kiever, once the hub of Toronto’s bustling Jewish market. An imaginary address is thus created at the synagogue’s site, symbolically entwining two distinct geographic locations, two spheres of life, and two different moments in time, connected by the thread of Jewish history.

In the contemporary European urban context, traces of an early 20th century Jewish past are often found only inside a synagogue, as little else survives of these once vibrant, everyday worlds. The place of worship becomes a site of remembrance, only partly capable of portraying, by proximity, a secular, bourgeois Jewish environment that produced some of the brilliant intellectuals of the 20th Century. Evoking this intimate world through a complex mix of installation art, performance and sound, Auguststrasse 25 temporarily brings it back to life, tracing the memory of European Jewish culture before the Shoah into the continuum of Jewish life in Toronto.

E.C. Woodley is an alumnus of the Manhattan School of Music and the Royal Conservatory of Music. He apprenticed in London, England with composer Michael Kamen, writing music and arrangements for Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil.  Recent music work includes film scores for Rhinoceros Eyes (2003), which won the Discovery Award at the Toronto International Film Festival; The Dark Hours (2005), winner of best film prizes in Edinburgh, New York, Puchon (Korea), Sitges (Spain); Cleopatra (2006), by Brazilian director, Julio Bressane; and the omnibus film Toronto Stories, which debuted at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. As a sound designer and composer for theatre, Woodley worked with two playwrights in particular: 2008 Siminovitch prize finalist Morwyn Brebner, and Random House/Penguin author Jonathan Garfinkel. Other sound and music for the stage includes director Jennifer Tarver’s series of five short Samuel Beckett plays, That Time, for which Woodley won a Dora Award in 2005. As the creator and host of The Lost and Found, a long-running show on Toronto radio station CKLN-FM, Woodley has broadcast his original audio collages monthly for the past several years. His source material runs through the history of recorded sound. Audio collage on CD includes A Ward of the Government (1992) which uses the recorded story of a young woman interned in the 1970’s Canadian government system of containing “juvenile delinquents”, and the soundscape work Abide with me (New York No. 1) (1995), in which sound recorded in New York’s Herald Square in the years 1991 and 1964 is overlain in an exploration of quotidian memory and it’s virtual absence or impossibility. E.C. Woodley is based in Toronto and is represented by ICM® International Creative, Los Angeles, CA.

Special thanks to Estee Klar-Wolfond, Quadrangle Architects Limited, Navarro Gallery, Cynthia Findlay Antiques, Campbell House Museum, and The Grange (Art Gallery of Ontario) for their support of this project.