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VSVSVS summer breeze on Queens Quay

Aug 11, 2015

Public art at York Ramp Park by VSVSVS

Have you recently travelled along Queens Quay or exited the Gardiner Expressway at York Street and wondered about the blue windsocks – where they came from, what they’re for, what they represent and why that blue looks so familiar?

By Rebecca Carbin

You may recall the unique opening celebration for the new Queens Quay earlier this spring, which involved a 650 metre long ribbon. It was a grand event, a momentous occasion and a one-of-a-kind ribbon cutting. Like the street, we wanted the ribbon to offer a legacy. Sections of the ribbon were donated to community groups that are incorporating this blue material into their programming. In addition, a local art collective, VSVSVS, has developed Something Something Blue, a temporary site-specific installation at York Ramp Park that you will want to see (or perhaps already have).

VSVSVS have been working on the waterfront since its members graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Guelph (an emerging hotbed of talent due to very strong faculty). The collective, comprising seven artists (Wallis Cheung , Ryan Clayton, Anthony Cooper, James Gardner, Stephen McLeod, Laura Simon, and Miles Stemp), are at an exciting time in their careers as they transition from emerging artists status to having a recognizable practice and an art world reputation.

You might remember them from their Nuit Blanche project in 2013 titled 1-855-Is-It-Art. During this all night exhibition, when lines are blurred between art and the everyday (or everynight), the artists set up a call centre and invited members of the public to call in, describe what they were seeing, and receive an “expert opinion” on whether or not it was art. This was my own introduction to their work.

Shortly after this I came across them again at Art Toronto where they installed a low tech Nap Station for the art world weary, a reprieve from the search for something that resonates, which can seem to characterize the experience of an big art fair.

The VSVSVS exhibition at Mercer Union has just been extended and they have just returned from WayHome music and arts festival, where they created an immersive environment for festival goers. 

VSVSVS installing public art at York Ramp ParkVSVSVS installing public art at York Ramp Park

VSVSVS are a cheeky bunch. 

VSVSVS use humour and casual presentation as entry points to artwork that is built on serious questions about art making, participation, engagement and, most importantly for this waterfront installation, the delineation of relationships between these three subjects and how they inform ownership and use of space. VSVSVS were the perfect choice to develop a concept that would engage with Queens Quay and the changes taking place on the waterfront. And so, for the rest of the summer and into the fall, “Something, something blue” will be installed in York Ramp Park for your pleasure and enjoyment.

What? Where is York Ramp Park?

Exactly. That’s why VSVSVS chose this site.  This installation invites people to come to a tucked away green space at the bottom of York Street, encircled by an off ramp from the Gardiner Expressway. The installation of 13 oversized custom windsocks calls to mind modes of communication with respect to transportation by sea, by air, by car. Their layout on one side of the park continues the arc of mature trees on the other and hugs the line of the Gardiner off-ramp. As the windsocks gently fill and move with the breeze in the park, the installation embodies everything we need to think about when we think about our waterfront.

Or not.

You may want to just come down to enjoy your lunch and while you’re here enjoy the beauty of these simple, elegant objects, watch the people and cars go by, watch the breeze move the windsocks, the clouds, the trees.

Whatever you bring to the artwork, you won’t want to miss it. It’s only in place through the end of the fall and I promise it will give you a reason to pause and take a breath. 

post contributor

  • Rebecca Carbin

    Rebecca was previously Waterfront Toronto's public art program manager. She holds a Masters in Curating Contemporary Art from Goldsmith’s College, University of London, UK. She was previously the Public Art Officer for the City of Toronto and she is the Founder of I Heart Your Work Art Futures, an artwork production concept that brings a kick-starter approach to contemporary art patronage.