Once again, I visited the beach in March to view the Winter Stations exhibit. You can read about my 2016 visit here. Although the 2017 theme was Catalyst (converting one form or substance into another), last year's theme of Freeze/Thaw perfectly described the weather and what happened to my face and extremities on the afternoon of Sunday, March 5th. Last year I had hoped to catch the exhibit in a winter like setting with snow. It happened to be a sunny day with early, spring-like temperatures. This year, there was no snow again, but it was extremely cold.
2017 marks the third year of Winter Stations, an international design competition to bring temporary public art installations to The Beaches, exhibited to celebrate Toronto's winter waterfront landscape. The installations were built around lifeguard stands on Toronto beaches.
Artists and designers were asked to unearth and intervene in such a way as to open up the landscape, as well as the minds of those who came to view and interact with the installations. The installations this year are also a catalyst for change: The jury wanted to see less waste and more re-use and asked artists and designers to consider how their materials can be repurposed and recycled.
Winning submissions this year were Canadian (Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo) and international (Spain and Italy, Portugal). While I enjoyed the 2016 exhibit, I found this year's exhibit to be more engaging.
Midwinter Fire. An augmented winter forest that reframes the region’s vegetation in contrast with the exposed winter landscape of the beach. The plants will continue to contribute to the local ecology once they are planted at the end of Winter Stations.
Collective Memory. A wall of memories as a catalyst of collective consciousness. Messages in bottles. Visitors were asked to contribute by writing and sharing their story. Everyone has a story to tell. At the end of Winter Stations, the installation will be removed and the collective memory will continue to resonate through those who participated.
The Beacon. The concept translates into the archetypical lighthouse conical shape, reduced to its simplest expression and conformed to the lifeguard stand proportions. The Beacon acts as a temporary drop-off location for non-perishable items such as canned food or clothes. The lower section of the structure acts as a repository for such items. The Beacon represents an opportunity to establish a permanent network of donation hotspots in Toronto, and a great addition to an urban park environment. It may also be repurposed as a wildlife observation tower, wilderness shelter, fire lookout tower...
BuoyBouyBuoy. Each component: a silhouette of a buoy, infinitely reconfigurable like building toys in transparent, solid and reflective units. From afar it creates a fog, a cloud around the lifeguard station, like drops reflecting and refracting the light. You approach. Figures come into view, ever-changing as they interact with the installation. After the installation, the pieces can be given to schools and community centres. Built. Rebuilt. A catalyst for a spark in the imagination.
Due to the reflective nature of the materials used, this one really stood out. It caught my eye from way down the beach.
NORTH. 41 fir trees suspended in midair, creating an evocative and colour-saturated canopy that stands out against the white of winter. Held by metal wire attached to a suspended metal structure, the trees sway slowly in the wind, parting as one moves through. Over time, the needles fall slowly to the ground marking a place. Afterwards, the sustainably harvested trees and the modular structure may be dismantled and re-used.
The first thing I noticed was that it smelled really nice.
The Illusory. Another piece that used reflective material and caught my eye from way down the beach. The installation challenges what is and what can be through a visual distortion of reality.
Flotsam and Jetsam. The installation reveals the realities of plastic consumption, resulting in waste and its effects on aquatic biodiversity of the planet we share.
My very observant friend said that from far away the installation looks beautiful, but when you get closer, you see that it is made of garbage. I laughed when I read the sign that described the exhibit because it pretty much said the same thing.
My phone started acting up (I blame the extreme cold weather) so I don't have any photos of I See You Ashiyu, by Asuka Kono and Rachel Salmela, but this Toronto Star article has a good picture of it as well as the rest of the installations.
The exhibition runs until March 27, 2017. Have you been to see it yet? What were your favourites?
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Story by Glodeane Brown
Photos by Glodeane Brown & Jocelyn Booton