The Space to be. (2006-07)


In this series of flipbooks and paintings, I created a surreal and liminal geography that ranges from the apocalyptic to the ridiculous. I was intrigued by the proliferation of what the anthropologist Marc Augé calls “non-places,” those spaces that are not concerned with identity, memory, or history, and are a product of a world that is “surrendered to solitary individuality, to the fleeting, the temporary and ephemeral.”

Condominiums are perhaps Toronto’s most visible instance of this global phenomenon. The “artist’s concept” images used to promote them have become a ubiquitous part of the landscape. As a bridge between the planned and completed space, these images embrace what Augé calls “supermodernity” while also reflecting the anxieties that many people have about the loss of human community and the natural environment. With their depiction of a lush terrain and a vibrant public realm, they recall a nostalgic landscape of the past, but without any of the painful or abject aspects of the existing built environment; they evoke what a utopia could feel like.

In pairing these images with the sublime yet kitschy skies of historical American landscape paintings (an earlier form of utopian imagining) the work is a meditation on uncertainty about the future and an indulgence of apocalyptic daydreaming. At the same time, it is an expression of a desire to try to imagine some other way of being that is neither reactionary nor blithely accepting of existing systems.

Photos by Tom Blanchard, except for the last four.