From the creative curatorial team behind the Leona Drive Project and the Museum for the End of the World comes Land|Slide: Possible Futures, a large-scale art intervention responding to a world in transition – where past, present and future collide. More than 30 local and international artists will install site-specific works exploring multiculturalism, sustainability and community at the 25-acre, open-air Markham Museum in a massive public art exhibition that will run Sept. 21 to Oct. 14.
“Branded as ‘Canada’s high-tech capital’, Markham epitomizes the 21st-century edge city, being the most diverse municipality, in one of the most agriculturally rich regions in the country,” said project lead and chief curator Janine Marchessault (left), director of the Sensorium: Digital Arts & Technology Research Centre in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. “This ecology and history makes it the ideal location to spark a collective conversation around the history of the land, the people that dwell in it and its possible futures.”
Like the hugely popular Leona Drive Project, which transformed six vacant Willowdale bungalows slated for demolition into interactive public art installations, Land|Slide will bring artists, urban planners, ecologists, educators, civic leaders and the general public together in a unique community engagement initiative. Land|Slide will transform the Markham Museum, including its 30 historic buildings from the 1850s to 1930s and more than 80,000 historical artifacts, to create a fascinating backdrop against which artists explore and reinterpret some of the most pressing issues facing Canadians today: how to balance ecology and economy, farming and development, history and diversity.
Working in a wide range of media – from film, sculpture, installation and performance to digitized diaries, 3-D projections and augmented reality – the invited artists have been commissioned to reinterpret the site and draw out new histories and futures for a world in dramatic transition.
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Visual Art alumna Jennie Suddick (MFA ’09) in her own childhood space that inspired her in Stomping Ground, a multimedia project in which she documents Markham residents reflecting on natural sites and green spaces they recall engaging with as children. Photo by visual art alum Thomas Blanchard (MFA ’08)
Canada’s pioneering conceptual artist IAIN BAXTER& contributes MARKHAMAZE, a walkable labyrinth cut into the grass and marked off with his iconic ampersand and other symbols capturing the spirit of ecological impact. Radical queer maximalist Allyson Mitchell, a professor of women’s studies at York University, crochets cobwebs into the corners of the Chapman House, which used to be located at the current site of Markham’s famed Pacific Mall. Titled Guh Why Low White Ghost Lesbian, her work examines the empty promise of colonialism and haunts a racist and homophobic history.
Work in progress images from the Skyhill Collective’s unique building The Textured Structure, featuring four walls using different low-tech building techniques mixing the creative with the practical
Chinese artist Xu Tan’s Echo Wall, built along the mini train tracks in the Markham Museum, invites local Chinese community members and Unionville High School students to perform in his pavilion. Dutch architect Frank Havermans, recently featured at the Hong Kong Architectural Biennale, reinterprets the historical intelligence that he finds dormant in the pulleys of the Strickler Barn to understand the push for urban development.
More project descriptions and artist bios can be found at landslide-possiblefutures.com
An opening day highlight is BAXTER&’s Concert for Car Horn – An Homage to Ant Farm, a tribute to the San Francisco art collective’s 1976 automobile opera CARmen. The concert will be performed live onsite at 4pm and 7pm on the opening exhibition day, Sept. 21.
Complementary programming includes a free guided augmented reality (AR) Land|Slide mobile app allowing visitors to access exclusive geo-locational content, artist talks and docent tours of the site in English, Chinese and Punjabi. In the evenings, a different Land|Slide emerges, with night-time projections and performances, including curated Saturday film nights and food programming. Cultural commuters can catch PWYC bus rides from Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) to Markham every Saturday.