Arts

What matters most to you? Your answer could be part of this art show

Send a message, and see it transformed into art. Michael Landy is creating a site-specific installation for Toronto's The Power Plant to capture daily life in Canada.

Send a message, and see it transformed into art. This upcoming show aims to be a portrait of life in Canada

For Demonstration, an upcoming site-specific installation at Toronto's Power Plant, Michael Landy will produce red-and-white drawings inspired by messages sent in from ordinary Canadians. This photo, taken at Museum Tinguely, is an installation view of his 2016 exhibition, Out of Order. (Daniel Spehr/Courtesy of the Power Plant)

You probably don't know it yet, but an internationally acclaimed artist wants to collaborate with you. The same goes for everyone in the country, really, and your first exhibition is already slated to launch at Toronto's leading public contemporary art gallery this September. Tell your mom. Hell, tell your mom she can be part of the show, too.

The exhibition, called Demonstration, is led by Michael Landy. He's one of the original "YBAs" — a U.K. artist arguably best known for Break Down, a 2001 piece where he destroyed every last one of his 7,227 personal possessions in a two-week-long performance. But for this project — his first exhibition of work in Canada — he and his team will take over a space inside The Power Plant, transforming a tall, corridor gallery into a "wall of protest," one that promises to regularly evolve over the space of six months. Throughout that time, studio assistants will be churning out red-and-white drawings that will be added to the walls, and each one of those pictures will be based on messages sent to them by regular people living in Canada, ultimately producing a piece that will (to quote the Power Plant website) "capture Canada's social and political landscape through the eyes of its inhabitiants." 

It's about daily life in Canada today.- Nabila Abdel Nabi, curator

Landy has created similar installations in recent years, including one in Athens this spring (Breaking News — Athens), and like that piece, Demonstration is meant to be a "bridge of communication" between the artist and the people. This time, the objective is to "portray the current Canadian experience," says Nabila Abdel Nabi, RBC curatorial fellow at The Power Plant and the curator on the upcoming project. "Left, right, centre — [Landy] wants a plurality of voices to be represented in the space," she says. And that's where you, very crucially, come in.

Participating is simple...

What do you feel strongly about? What makes you happy or sad or angry enough that you want to tell the world about it? Answer that question, and send it in. Your message could be "images, text, slogans, symbols, whatever makes sense," says Abdel Nabi. And if that open-ended question feels too open-ended, she has a helpful suggestion. Reflect on the title, Demonstration. What does that word suggest to you? Your message, she explains, could be "anything that you want to react against, protest, support or champion." That includes political topics, sure, but anything goes — from pipelines to parents that just don't understand.

Once received, the artist will decide whether to interpret your message as an original drawing which will be added to the installation's wall of protest. You'll be contacted by email if you've been chosen, and once Demonstration has wrapped, the resulting original artwork is all yours to take home.

How to send in your message

To have your voice heard, contact The Power Plant one of three ways. Email is likely your most direct bet — they're receiving messages through the address submissions@thepowerplant.org. On social media, use the hashtag #TPPDemonstration; the gallery will be collecting all posts and sending them to the artist. There's an IRL option, too. Visit The Power Plant Thursdays between 5 and 8 p.m. to deliver your contribution in person.


 

And while Demonstration will be accepting input all through its extensive run, there is one upcoming deadline. Keeners: if you want your message to be a part of the exhibition's launch, you need to get it in by September 10. For more details on the submission process, you can visit The Power Plant's website.  

"Particularly against the backdrop of Canada 150, this was the time to have Canadian voices represented and have the narratives of history come through the people themselves," says Abdel Nabi, explaining why Landy was invited to Toronto to mount the piece. "It's about daily life in Canada today. He wants to reflect what it is like to live in Canada through the eyes of its inhabitants."

Check out a video about the artist's recent project, Breaking News — Athens.


 

Michael Landy. Demonstration. Sept. 29-May 13 at The Power Plant, Toronto. www.thepowerplant.org. More info on how to contribute to the project.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now