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    Art Infiltrates Union Station

    Monday, 19 January 2015 17:19

    Written by Lise Hosein

    The Great Hall at Union Station is a monumental space, but one that can easily fall into the commuter’s blind spot as they hurry to their train. One of the more provocative elements of Villa Toronto, the much-anticipated week-long international exhibition in the vaulted heart of the station, is that it makes you look up.

    Two key works in the exhibition bracket the Great Hall: Derek Sullivan’s Endless Kiosk, a postered column that stretches toward the ceiling; and Dean Drever’s Pass the Hat, a tall white totem pole (comprised of thousands of sheets of paper stacked upon one another). Add Reto Pulfer’s The Ghost, a diaphanous form that hovers many feet above onlookers’ heads, and there’s a lot going on to draw your eyes skyward and engage with the scale of Union Station’s interior.

    It could be argued that the works on the ground live a little less harmoniously with a space that starts to seem simply a bit too large for the exhibition. But let’s be frank – the scale of this hall is simply daunting to work with, and this is a temporary exhibition that must deal with the challenge. The solution: because there are no walls in the centre of the Great Hall, they’ve been built, creating small rooms that feature multimedia works and installations. Many of those works are rather hypnotic – Brooklyn artist JD Walsh’s Outliers uses a musical score, video of a cymbal being hit with a stick, and a looping animated feature to compelling effect (I struggled with this description, but you really have to just go and see/hear it). Zeke Moores’s reflective metallic dumpster and port-o-potty let us imagine a world where sidewalk facilities are actually stunning. So: while the relationship between architecture and art might get a little fuzzy at the ground level of Villa Toronto, kudos to the curator for finding a workable solution.

    Villa Toronto has many rewarding moments, and its anti-commercial stance (unlike other art fairs, Villa Toronto isn’t here to sell anything) makes the whole collection of works a bit freer and more thoughtful. The heart behind Villa Toronto is evident. And without doubt these are not only pieces worth seeing, but they offer the pedestrian spaces of Union Station something much-needed and entirely new, and they’re a reflection of a new age of Toronto thinking differently about its many public spaces.

    Villa Toronto is at Union Station’s Great Hall until January 23rd. Check http://villaraster.com/toronto for details.

     



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