Alison's Writing Portfolio · Daybook · On Culture & Trends · On Design & Art · On Places & Travel

Daybook + Huffington Post: Anti-Condo Art in Toronto

IMG_3182(x-posted at Huffington Post) A few more pics from the installation and from my Toronto trip on Flickr

The towers rise inexorably — first in metal scaffolding, then in shiny glass, eventually to be lit from within by the glow of flat-screen televisions. Yes, I'm talking about new condo development, and from my apartment in Manhattan, I can see no less than six new projects, two right across the street.  Although collapsing credit markets will no doubt create a pause in new projects, they haven't stopped the construction of projects already financed and underway.

 I'm fascinated by art that comments on the developing urban scene –earlier this year, I wrote about the "Golden Fences" project in Baltimore. So this weekend, in my visit to condo-copulating Toronto (120 projects on the  market), I went to check out A City Renewal Project , an installation of street art created by two artists who go by the names Fauxreel and Specter.

The installation is in a large empty warehouse that's been transformed into a streetscape, via photos of old Toronto shops blown up into wallpaper, as well as props like a bus shelter, garbage can, pay phone  and crunchy brown leaves.  The idea is to document a piece of urban life that's fading into history.

IMG_3183The signage in here is not faithfully representational –for
example, the storefront that leads into the warehouse is named "Mr. Loogie (Let it fly), apparently a replica of a failed discount store called Mr. Loonie; a
driving school is "Lucky I'm not Driving",a  Chinese restaurant's name is "Dude Where's My Dog", another Chinese restaurant offers "#1 Best Fresh Frozen Chinese Food".

It strives, I suppose, for a kind of Judd Apatow movie type of humor,–anyway, certainly not an elegiac for the quiet dignity or beauty of  the soon-to-be past. But it was pretty accurate, as I learned when I turned onto Queen Street–which thanks to the gray day
totally looked like what I'd just seen in the installation. (Last photo below.)

IMG_3191 I walked away wondering whether the whether the streetscape that I was saw in there was actually worth saving, and whether the shiny new condos would be an improvement after all.

It wasn't suprising to me to learn, via Torontoist
that one of the artists, Dan Bergeron (Fauxreel) has
some ambivalence about the change in urban life, an ambivalence that I
share, as I think knee-jerk preservation is just as silly as knee-jerk
knock-it-all-down and start afresh.

 All in all, good, thought-provoking streetscape satire.  Go check it out yourself at 39 Lisgar Street, in Toronto, until November 23rd. 

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