July 14 to August 20, 2011
Koffler Gallery Off-Site
Olga Korper Gallery, 17 Morrow Avenue
Curator: Mona Filip
Swing Stage is a new installation by Toronto artist Lyla Rye that explores the architecture of the Olga Korper Gallery and the history of the Morrow complex where it is located. The transformation of this former industrial space parallels a process of development typical in Toronto as in many North American cities. In the past forty years, buildings such as this were first taken over by small businesses and artist studios, later being renovated as upscale residences, art galleries, or offices related to design and digital services.
Built in the 1890s, the building functioned initially as a foundry. The metal trusses supporting the roof are one of the most striking features of the space, hearkening back to the industrial revolution. They are both urban vestiges and beautiful, yet inaccessible structural elements. A sense of distance, both temporal and spatial, is associated with them. Using optical inversions and theatrical tactics, Lyla Rye’s installation attempts to overcome this distance, enfolding the viewer within a shifting environment that re-imagines the historic roof structure.
A suspended platform hovers just above the floor, suggesting the layers of usage and change of the space over time. Attached with chains from the trusses and replicating their configuration, the platform is low enough for viewers to step on and creates the experience of an elevated vantage point. The dark, reflective flooring of the platform mirrors the ceiling above, creating the appearance of a recessed void rather than a raised stage and produces a subtle disorientation. A circular screen displays a video projection that references the view out of the round window atop the eastern gallery wall. The video spans a 1930s rendering of the building, footage recorded on site, and a Google Earth model view of the neighbourhood.
Both through its title and design, Swing Stage alludes to the suspended scaffolds used for construction or maintenance on the exterior of highrise buildings and their transitory and unstable nature. It also hints at the fundamental idea of the stage as a site where a temporary suspension of disbelief can occur. Only within such a privileged space can a view that extends over space and through time be conjured, offering a thoughtful investigation of the continuous change that drives the life of a city.