Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!

2015, An installation for Toronto's Nuit Blanche, October 3, 2015. A component of The Work Of Wind, curated by Christine Shaw, and presented at Harbourfront Centre.

Nineteen 25' tall dancing inflatable smoke stacks congregated on Toronto's waterfront for one night, reappearing like ghostly apparitions on a shoreline once abundant with chimneys. The installation re-imagined the manufacturing sector that once featured prominently on the lake, but has since been replaced by other land uses, such as residential, tourism and culture. It explored the changing fortunes of Toronto's “smokestack industry,” once hailed as a symbol of progress and prosperity, but has, as of this century become laden with negative connotations, shuttled out of sight or shuttered entirely.

The air tubes ran throughout the night, dancing, swaying, gyrating and heaving like a writhing industrial park, belching out stylized “smoke” from the top of each. Their movements ebbed and flowed, sometimes dropping down to harass visitors, other times frantically jittering about upright. Nineteen high-powered blowers droned throughout, loud and grating enough to drown out a lot of discourse. A few sympathetic visitors hugged these smoke stacks, expressing affection for the somewhat sinister taunting figures. Others took selfies with these reminders of our continued dependence on carbon-emitting industries.

Thank you to Christine Shaw; Harbourfront Centre, The Power Plant, Harbourfront Theatre; Scotiabank Nuit Blanche: Jenn Goodwin, Kim Gravel, Kirsten Labonte, Dan Surman; Meghan McKnight; Mitch Belfry, BalloonBoys