An official public installation of Scotiabank CONTACT, Contacting Toronto: Under this Ground offers a glimpse of the unseen spaces that exist below the streets of Toronto – our buried waterways and sewers. In this site-specfic public installation on subway screens and posters, artists Michael Cook and Andrew Emond make the scope of Toronto’s sewers visible to the public for the first time.
Michael Cook’s compelling photographs, shown on subway station posters, represent a metaphorical and physical shining of light on this unseen layer of the city: first, the artist had to discover a way of entering each sewer; then light had to be brought in so that the impressive physical spaces of this network could be photographed. Cook’s work dispels the abstraction of the sewer network, which encloses old waterways and follows their courses, shaping the possibilities of the built form above. 33 unique photographs (45 posters) transform St Patrick subway station for the run of this project.
Andrew Emond has focused on underground infrastructures beneath the cities of Montreal and Toronto, turning here to three of Toronto’s sewers – Garrison Creek, Small’s Creek and Black Creek tributary. Shown on TTC subway platform screens, his stop-motion animations lead the viewer through these tunnels, highlighting their geometric features and the buried creeks and rivers that flow through them. Emond’s work plays once every 10 minutes on over 300 screens across the subway system, and non-stop on dedicated Pattison Onestop ‘Art Zone’ screens for the first week of the exhibition. Bloor, Dundas, and St. Andrew Stations all feature Art Zone screens.
The Toronto subway system is the most common place where people come in contact with the city’s underground. It offers a perfect location to view this project, allowing viewers to reflect on a layer of the city to which we are all connected, yet rarely have the opportunity to see.
Curated by Sharon Switzer. This exhibition is co-produced by Art for Commuters and Pattison Onestop in partnership with CONTACT Photography Festival. Supported by the Ontario Arts Council.