Artists from the Pan American countries – who have never been to the city – share snapshots of the Toronto they imagine in an art installation appearing throughout Toronto’s transit system. In Welcome to Toronto, Artists are paired with a TTC subway station and tasked to create a 10-second silent video/stop frame postcard that encapsulates their vision of Toronto while reflecting the identity of their native land.
After a successful partnership in the 2014 Luminato Festival, Welcome to Toronto poses a series of important questions for our daily commute: What impression has Toronto made on the rest of the continent? Is this a true reflection of the Toronto we know? And what would you put on your postcard to the city?
Stereotypes -The eyes that look at us-
While the spirit of celebration of the Toronto 2015 PanAm Games is in the air, Luminato Festival has invited artists from the Americas representing the different countries of the event.Taking into consideration the ever-shifting dynamics between North and South, I have invited a group of artists from Central and South America to visualize a voyage to exotic Canada. These artists have emphasized the often uninformed, yet sometimes accurate ways in which many perceive our country, and the stereotypes surrounding the Canadian identity.
How we see ourselves is frequently discordant with how others with different backgrounds perceive us. Stereotypes and their distorted nature create a starting point alongside cultural and social assumptions, attributing a person or entity an oversimplified connotation. Some stereotypes surrounding Canadians may be whimsically accurate (Canadians apologize excessively), while others are the result of long-held and misinformed beliefs (It is always cold in Canada.) Truthful or not, the vision of these artists serves to evoke a dialogue around our identity and our way of living.
The videos in this program deal with a wide range of issues such as coexistence, coherent urbanism, linguistics, national games, fashion advertisement, the environment, amongst others. Despite their different approaches and interests, the artists share their views on Canada with wit and intelligence.
To be displayed on the information screens located in several subway platforms across the city, this program aims to provide an exchange between the artists and the commuters: a cultural alternative, and even a smile.
1. Donna Conlon / Panama
Title: Coexistence, 2003
A parade of leaf-cutter ants, carrying artificial leaves painted as flags of different nations and peace signs.
2. Joaquin Rodriguez del Paso / Costa Rica
Tittle: When American Travel Abroad…, 2015
If you ask the regular Latin American what’s the main difference is between Canadians and Americans, they probably wouldn’t know. But everyone would probably know that Canada has never intervene ( or invade) Latin America. Thus, even Americans know that the perception the world has of these two neighboring nations is very different. My short video playfully looks at this idea, as an American puts on a Canadian flag to pose as a Canadian citizen when traveling abroad.
3. Yucef Merhi / Venezuela
Title: Sorry, 2015
Sorry is a video in which the word ‘sorry’ is revealed. In my personal experience I have witnessed the obsessive use of this word by many Canadian friends.
The word is generated from the organic movement of lines that refer to a petroglyph. As is known, petroglyphs are symbols of communication prior to writing which date back to about 10,000 B.C. (Neolithic period). These graphic symbols, usually carved in rock, are present throughout Canada. There is even a park dedicated to them called Petroglyphs Provincial Park, located in Ontario. Likewise, petroglyphs have been found in several regions of Venezuela, as well as countries from each continent.
Because petroglyphs are pre-written symbols, a word presented as a petroglyph should be seen as an oxymoron. Hence the visual-semantic game that I propose.
4. Los Carpinteros / Cuba-Spain
Title: Polaris, 2014
It’s a video piece that explores large areas of silence, in which the notion of pilgrimage takes center stage as abstract and personal ritual.
5. David Perez (Karmadavis) / Dominican Republic
Title: Babel Tower, 2013
A powerful image of seven people playing on the water the challenge idea to built a human tower, a temporary playful Babel Tower. A challenge structure that remains that in unity we are always strong.
6. Omar Gamez / Mexico
Title: Cascada, 2015
I have never been in Canada. I imagine that place cold and white, full of nature and kind people. My video aims to transmit the color and peace of mind that I imagine from Canada.
7. Ariana Page Russell / USA
Title: Mount, 2014
I have seen some of the most beautiful mountains in Canada. For Mount I made temporary tattoos with an image of a mountain on the back and placed them on my face. When the mountains are removed to reveal the tattoos, an echo of the shape, made of legs, remains as I think about climbing.
8. Cecilia Paredes / Peru
Title: Stereotype, 2015
I choose to address the theme of “otherness” and by doing so in a playful way; to demystify the menace implied upon a tattooed person.
9. Eugenia Vargas / Chile
Title: Girls and Horses, 2013
The video Girls and Horses is a series of appropriated Hollywood film clips depicting highly charged relationships between girls and horses. Together with their horses, these women are capable of taking great risk, facing great danger, even defying death. The girl is willing to go “all the way” with her horse.
10. Nicolas Robbio / Argentina- Brazil
Title: Accidental Geometries, 2008
It presents a playful exercise of observation of human scales from the perspective of a possible imaginary line. In a public square passersby walking hiking, generating random geometric configurations that roads become meeting with the urban landscape.
11. Carla Zacagnini and Nicolas Robbio / Argentina /Brasil
Title: Repetition, 2008
Puts in check the notion of design as the product of pure rationality, the choreographed movements of both artists, who make the same drawing in synchrony, suggest an idea of standardization, but their almost mechanical precision is negated by the final result, in which transpires is the difference produce by subjectivity.
12. Carla Zacagnini / Argentina- Brazil
Tittle: Sometimes Not Knowing it’s Impossible is Like Knowing it is Possible, 2013
This video records an ant dragging a lifeless mosquito across a ruler on the artist’s desk. Lugging a weight much larger than itself, the ant forges onward, climbing up and down the ruler and crossing the numbers from one side to the other. In capturing the resolve of this creature in the face of a seemingly impossible task. This work asks us to reconsider the limits of what we can achieve. In light of the artist’s on-going interest in the impossibility of documenting human experiences, offering viewers a note of encouragement.
13. Richard Moszka / Canada-Mexico
Title: A Sign, 2015
“Hello darling, I just got to Union Station fifteen minutes ago, and I have already been told on three different occasions that I am standing in the wrong place.” –S.L.
14. Adrian Balseca / Ecuador
Title: Other Signals, 2015
Based on original signs illustrated by Italo- American artist Pietro Lazzari 9 1895-1979_ for TRANSPORTATION IN THE OTHER AMERICAS, a 1944 Pan American Union Publication, this video presents these signals in order to rebuilt as a fake institution message for the Canadian Car an Foundry Co. Ltd., the ass well the notions of “otherness”
15. Maurizio Esquivel / El Salvador
Title: Glitch & Landscapes, 2015
Is a personal approach to present ways of reflecting bodies in screens and mirrors. The artist created a “Central Line” which consists of a collection of pictures that were taken in the London Underground and self-portraits captured with a phone in different places. The work explores the impact of technology in relationships and considers these kinds of interactions as “heterotopic spaces” that Foucault refers to on the “Utopian Body.”
16. Daniel Salamanca / Colombia
Title: Happy Canadian Couples: A Catalogue, 2015
This short video was made with cut images from a clothes catalogue that arrived into my apartment in Bogotá, Colombia. It was really funny to see this white, current people, smiling with their very practical, but not trendy, outfits as fashion models. The visual edition shows them as a big happy family posing for a frontal camera, with a black and white old filter. At the end we can read a quote from the novel Canada, written by Canadian writer Richard Ford.
The expectation is that viewers are confronted with the stereotyped image that a Colombian artist has of them, in contradiction with the naturalist and psychological book of Ford. Some might see it like a cheerful portrait and others might perceive it as a mockery: this ambiguity is what intrigues the artist.
17. Manolo Lugo / Mexico- Canada
Title: CANADATTIRE, 2015
Is a brief vignette that uses the language of contemporary fashion advertisement as well as found images of what is posted online as ‘Canadian attire’, collapsing words and looks into a flashing survey of the stereotypical Canadian outfit.
18. Rodrigo Dada / El Salvador
Title: Syrup, 2015
Part of my family immigrated to Canada during the civil war in El Salvador in the1980’s. By displaying a printed photograph of my grandmother visiting my uncle and family in the middle of the Canadian landscape, I create a metaphor about the flowing of time and the distortion of memory through the confrontation of cultural stereotypes from El Salvador and Canada: maple syrup and tropical vegetation.
19. Francisco Fernando Granados / Guatemala-Canada
The name “Toronto” is likely derived from the Iroquois word tkaronto, meaning “place where trees stand in the water.” Having come from afar seeking refuge, he sings with joy the name of the place he now calls home.
20. Lester Rodriguez / Honduras
Title: The Biggest Tropical Games, 2015
What if there were a tropical version of Hockey? How would that version would manifest in a popular level? A tropical biggest hockey game is a comical look on ways of appropriation of a practice, and their insertion into a different context.
21. Lazaro Saavedra / Cuba
Title: Learning How to Walk, 2006
Passing through a humorous filter to quickly penetrate the eyes and display on the walls of the mind. The public is neurons, not eyes. Just tickle the brain so that it smiles thinking. A tool of thoughts and for thought.
22. Paulette Phillips / Canada
Title: Trace Elements
When two things touch trace elements are exchanged is both the first law of forensic science and a poetic description of what occurs when things, people animals and matter meet. Nothing stays the same, everything is in a constant mingle. Cast in ice and shot on film, this short work was originally made as a eulogy for celluloid film, harnessing films indexical capacity to capture the magic of light.
23. Rodolfo Peraza/ Cuba
Title: N/T, 2015
This animated video connects subway stations Dupont St. in Toronto (Canada) and Fanguito St. in Havana (Cuba) through video and signs. This piece is presented as a game in which the travelers’ expectations and desires for both sides intertwine.