The ever-changing Lake Ontario waterfront was again transformed last fall, from Etobicoke Creek, to Ashbridges Bay. The Toronto Biennial of Art unfolded along the shoreline, representing 72 days of art that ranged from installations to performances, and talks that engaged with place in both its past and present forms. The Biennial’s curatorial framework, developed by Deputy Director & Director of Programming Ilana Shamoon, sought to tell some of the lesser known stories about the shoreline of this Great Lake—a place that has been inhabited by many different Nations for years. Shamoon worked with Ange Loft, a multi-disciplinary artist and performer from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, who produced an accompanying document entitled the “Toronto Indigenous Context Brief.”
In many of its pieces, the Biennial asks us what it means to be in relation. Many of the pieces, from A.A. Bronson’s multi-year project, “A Public Apology to Siksika Nation,” which deals with European genocide, to Luis Jacob’s “The View from Here,” an installation that explored varied representations of the complex and layered place that is now known as Toronto. As Ange Loft says, “being in relation takes time, energy, and investment to learn what is in between—what holds us up and what keeps us together. Those in-between things are not only roads and buildings, but the foundational understandings that have allowed Toronto to be here.” It is a question we need to keep asking ourselves again and again, in whatever territory we find ourselves in.
BIO/ Shannon Baker, OALA, is a landscape architect at Waterfront Toronto and a member of the Ground Editorial Board.