Every Building from A Defunct Liberty Village Factory, Rotated Vertically
2018, commissioned as part of The Bentway (Toronto) group exhibition If, What, But If? curated by Ilana Altman.
The Bentway sits almost across the road from what was once the John Inglis and Company factory, at one point Canada's prized jewel industrial powerhouse, building steamship engines, fermentation tanks for Molson's brewery, industrial pumps, turbines, World War I and II armaments, and finally washing machines. When it closed in 1989, it represented a staggering loss of industrial capacity for the city and the country. Much like the destruction of the St. Louis' Pruitt-Igoe housing complex that to many represented the "end of modernism," the closure of the Strachan Inglis factory symbolized something bigger, in this case the demarcation between downtown Toronto's industrial and post-industrial eras.
The area that was once covered with Inglis factory buildings is now the residential neighbourhood of Liberty Village. While a few of the original industrial buildings have been repurposed as residential, office and retail space, most have been torn down and replaced with glittering highrise towers.
This installation reimagines the Inglis factory in its heyday, (circa 1945) at 1:70 scale, with every building rotated from horizontal to vertical position. The gesture evokes the dense and populous verticality that has transformed the neighbourhood, while alluding to a gravestone-like memorial for the area's past industrial life.
Grateful acknowledgements to Ilana Altman, Sarah Munro, Julian Sleath, Vincent Chu, Blackwell Structural Engineers, Jono Peters, Steel & Oak, Maker Technical Sculpture Services, Kirsten LaBonte, Annie Koyama, Ruth Jones.
“If, But, What If?” includes works from Michael Awad (Toronto), Steven Beckly (Toronto), Wally Dion (Upstate New York / Haudenosaunee territory), Mani Mazinani and Sanaz Mazinani (Toronto and San Francisco), Alex McLeod (Toronto), Sans façon (Calgary), and Jon Sasaki (Toronto).