An official public installation of Scotiabank CONTACT, Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities explores issues of suburban development and sustainability through the photographs of Mexican artist Alejandro Cartagena and videos by Kingston, Ontario art duo Julia Krolik & Owen Fernley, transforming Toronto’s Warden subway station. The exhibition also threads throughout the rest of the city’s subway system, capturing the attention of more than one million daily commuters on PATTISON Onestop screens.
Cartagena’s images are shown on advertising posters throughout Warden station, the penultimate stop on the eastern edge of the system. This massive station, with numerous bays and parking lots, serves as a primary destination for many suburban commuters. The artist’s series Carpoolers (2011–2012) portrays a different kind of commute, adopting a bird’s eye view of construction workers and landscapers gathered together in the beds of pickup trucks. Travelling to the wealthy suburban communities outside of Monterrey, Mexico that they build and maintain, the men lounge together, nestled among the tools and detritus of their professions. Another series by Cartagena, Suburbia Mexicana (2006–2010), focuses on the rise of poorer suburbs. Tiny cookie-cutter homes spread across the horizon, while families pose in front of these simple dwellings, proud of their new neighbourhoods.
Intersection (2015) is a series of videos by Krolik & Fernley, shown non-stop on 5 TTC LCD screens throughout Warden station and every 5 minutes at most other subways. Aerial views of suburban homes, roads, and parking lots are revealed with map-like precision, through the use of government orthophotos (permission granted by the Ministry of Natural Resources). The artists created a custom image processor to randomly sample images from an unidentified suburban region north of the GTA. Appearing as a triptych of changing images, this expanse transforms continuously as unnamed communities replace one another, details blurring into a seemingly never-ending suburban landscape.
Curated by Sharon Switzer.
Contacting Toronto: Expanding Cities is a part of PATTISON Onestop’s ongoing Art in Transit programme and is co-produced by Art for Commuters, in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council.
Alejandro Cartagena lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico. Cartagena’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in public and private collections in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and the United States, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, the Portland Museum of Art and the Museo de Arte Moderno in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He has received the Photolucida Critical Mass Book Award, the Lente Latino award in Chile, and the Premio IILA-Fotografia 2012 award in Rome. He has been named a FOAM Magazine Talent and one of PDN’s 30 International Emerging Photographers to watch. Cartagena’s work has been published internationally in magazines such as Newsweek, The New York Times Lens blog, Nowness, Domus, The Financial Times, View, The Guardian, le Monde, PDN, The New Yorker, The Independent, Monocle and Wallpaper. His monograph Suburbia Mexicana was published in 2011 (Daylight/Photolucida) and his latest book Carpoolers was released in 2014 (Fonca - Conaculta).
He is represented by Circuit Gallery (Toronto).
For the past decade Alejandro Cartagena has been investigating the relationship between Mexico's urban centres and the suburbs built around them, examining the ways in which explosive growth has altered the landscape and affected the lives of residents. Through these projects, Cartagena creatively sheds light on the complex issues surrounding the 'ideal' of homeownership and its recent boom in Mexico. He intimately observes many of the spaces and people involved, including buyers, public bureaucrats, and labourers. He illustrates how Mexico's social and political context has proved to be both a benefit and a threat to many new buyers, opening up both new opportunities and new challenges.
Julia Krolik self identifies as a polymath. Formally educated in the sciences, her work has taken numerous turns and includes research involving micro/molecular biology, statistics, cell biology, biochemistry, geospatial analytics, public health, water quality and hydrogeology. As an exhibiting artist, Julia pushes her boundaries by exploring all mediums necessary (including radio, digital media, performance art, video art, experimental music and dance) to realize her ideas. She co-created Decomposing Pianos, an experimental music collective focusing on science, art, experimental music and new media. Her diverse background enables a rare cross disciplinary empathy and she continuously advocates for both art and science.
Intersection (2015) includes material © 2010 of the Queen's Printer for Ontario. All rights reserved. For information about the imagery, go to: www.ontario.ca/lio
Collaboratively, Julia Krolik and Owen Fernley find inspiration by investigating relationships between nature and technology. They develop custom tools and methodology required to realize their ideas. Their process is a combination of premeditated planning and spontaneous experimentation, in which they are free to discover the unexpected within the confines of a structured system. Their work Intersection forces the viewer into a bird's eye view of an urbanization process. In a slot machine-like manner, aerial photos are revealed and ask the observer to instinctually search for potential connections across the screen. This subtle natural tendency to merge roads, dwellings, paths and rivers toward a state of connectedness exposes the notion of what we truly desire.