Resigned and elegiac, Lund’s work mourns the loss of yet another instance of a sort of spontaneous or accidental urban experience that he refers to, in the tradition of Bas Jan Ader, as the miraculous. Lund often works with the quotidian marvels of the city, as he did, most notably, in Swingsite (2003–2006), a fully functional swing that he installed in a narrow, wedge-shaped gap between two buildings a dozen blocks east of Word Count’s site. In their purest form, these experiences of the miraculous are extremely difficult to reconcile with the rigours of documentation and the requirements of funding agencies, the expectations of which are reified and exposed here. Lund’s focus on elusive urban phenomena is difficult material on which to sustain a contemporary artistic practice. In this work, the intensity of one such moment is fully exposed, and something new is added: the equally intense feeling of the impossibility of making such material the basis of a work of art. This generates a powerful affect that hovers about the site. It is a sort of melancholy, and because its source is not entirely explicit, it readily attaches to various nearby and related objects. The long-standing urban factory building at 48 Abell that formerly housed a community of artists is only the most obvious. Word Count offers a surprisingly powerful monument to the lost building and community, in part because the affective flow does not end there. The work implies a wider unease with urban re-development, globalization, and climate change. By positing his beautiful idea in the form dictated by the bureaucratic management of art and then publicly displaying it on the margins of the last site in an old industrial district to capitulate to re-development, Lund conveys a newly pessimistic vision of the erosion of the aesthetic basis of urban life. He invites the reader to extrapolate beyond his admission that his unrealized video proposal is unrealizable, and to conclude by declaring it unrealistic. But if we do so, we are caught in his endgame – suddenly, unwittingly, we become the jurors who reject his proposal, and along with it, the miraculous possibilities of the city.
Corwyn Lund is an artist, currently based in Toronto, whose work explores the intersection of sculpture and site. His formative urban interventions create dynamic physical engagement between the viewer-participant and the city-at-large. Subsequent gallery-based installations continue to explore the relationship between the body, sculptural form, and context. Since training in art, design and architecture, Lund has participated in artist residencies in Banff and the Netherlands. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in several private, public, and corporate collections. Lund is represented by Diaz Contemporary in Toronto.
Kenneth Hayes is an architectural historian and a critic of contemporary art. In 2008, he published a book titled Milk and Melancholy with Prefix ICA and MIT Press, and in 2010, he completed a PhD in architectural history at Middle East Technical University in Ankara Turkey.
Design: Tony Hewer | Editing: Kathy Daymond | Photos: Nick Kozak
Digital publication to the exhibition Corwyn Lund: Word Count
Presented by the Koffler Gallery Off-Site at Epic Condominium Development
48 Abell Street, Toronto
April 25 to June 30, 2013 | Curator: Mona Flip
© Koffler Centre of the Arts, 2013, in collaboration with the individual contributors.
All rights reserved. ISBN 978-0-920863-98-5.