Soundscapes from granite quarries, processing plants, and storage facilities.
May 2023 - February 2024
A corridor for walking and remembering other places.
A group of actors perform waterfront workers' recollections of other places.
Walking To Work is an artistic exploration of the ways in which Toronto's waterfront district is understood as a place – not in the sense of it being a unique geographical location, but as the result of the mobility of people, ideas, and things – in other words, through its relationships to elsewhere. I'm particularly interested in how this is experienced by some of us in our everyday lives – especially by those who are, like myself, newcomers or temporary migrants – where memories of there always haunt our experience of here. In this project artistic work is used to draw further attention to this relationship between our imaginary and material worlds, the place where we used to live, and the place where we live now.
As an artist-residency, this was an opportunity to work to an open brief * using artistic processes as a way to explore my chosen theme in an expansive and speculative way.
Over the course of the year, I developed a series of artistic experiments that produce or reflect on the condition of experiencing 'place' in this way, and the constraints – or sense of possibility – that we might feel as a result. What is it like when working on the Waterfront is inseparable from intense recollections of life elsewhere? What is it to experience both here and there simultaneously? What does Toronto's waterfront become, as a place, when we hold these seemingly paradoxical things in tension with each other?
* I use the term in relation to the concept developed by the Artist Placement Group (APG) who wanted to avoid reducing the artist's role to one of service provider within residencies or "placements" within government and corporations.
Some of the artistic techniques used in this project were drawn from past examples of my 'walking work' – artworks made by walking, or about walking – that I developed over a ten-year period from the late 1990s onward. This work questioned some of the assumptions about what walking as art entails (whether it is a model for solitary and individualistic art practice, or a social and participatory one, for example); or the relationship between the grounded embodied experience of walking, and the social, cognitive and affective aspects of remembering, imagining, and talking with others.
This new project picked-up on these themes and methods, shaping them according to the specific conditions of Toronto's downtown waterfront district, and among the relationships between people, ideas, and things from which the city is formed.
Over the last 30 years or so, I've made work that explores the relationships between social and technical networks, the social modalities of walking as art, and, most recently, collective negotiations of more-than-human social worlds. I represented Wales at the Venice Biennale of Fine Art (2003), was a member of award-winning net.art collective I/O/D (1993-2000), and was awarded a UK government NESTA Fellowship to research walking as contemporary art (2002-5). I often work in collaboration with other artists and researchers, and through partnerships with universities and museums. I am currently an Associate Researcher at the University of Exeter and an Eccles Fellow at the British Library.
More information at simonpope.info