Adrian Blackwell

6 July 2000 - 5 August 2000
Opening Reception 6 July 2000 8pm

Front Gallery:

Model for Public Space

Open Focus 

It’s a dream of the perfect party where conversation, as powerful as a song, cascades along a slow twisting course, leading nowhere in particular. Stand back and it makes a gleeful remark on what the modernist architect shares with the skate punk: a love of aerial feats.

An amphitheatre-like conversation pit, Adrian Blackwell’s Model for Public Space offers no single spectacle to arrest or direct attention. The piece begins with a simple drawing and an engagingly open-ended hypothesis about shared time and space. A Skilsaw-etched circle spirals outward to a thirty foot radius. Rings of plywood are propped up on supports in order to make a continuously unfolding ramp of bleachers that will hold the weight of walking, sitting, and talking. People enter, or stand at the perimeter. They hoist themselves up, navigate other bodies, make room for the newly arrived, watch and offer their reflections to any others who happen to be in the space. Some will arrive to participate in scheduled discussions. In this space, words can weave their way through the various levels, moving from beneath to above, falling inward, or floating across the centre. An ideal of social being cast in wood, Blackwell’s model looks like a speaker on its side, amplifying upward.

As the city, fearful of loitering and lawsuits, removes the swings and monkey bars from parks and school yards and permits franchise developers to replace city life with ‘urban event space’, artist and architect Blackwell speculates about how design and structure can nurture other public possibilities. His Model for Public Spacecasts doubt on the values that contemporary culture ingests along with the incentives and returns of transnational capital. His notion of the public-indebted to Habermas, Arendt and the Situationist’s theory of the derivĂ©-upholds the ideals of collective action and open discussion, and allows for layer upon layer of spontaneous, emergent behaviour. This appreciation of sedimentation and trophyless play remains resolutely at odds with the prevailing ethos of efficiency, surface, and surveillance. Perhaps this is why the project, although originally conceived within the context of a collaborative proposal for the redevelopment of the Yonge and Dundas intersection, has necessarily taken on a life of its own.

Kathleen Pirrie Adams

This spring Adrian Blackwell participated in the workshop Anti-loft presenting his photo-models of living and working spaces at 9 Hanna Ave. He’s shown sculpture, architecture and photography in Trans at Artlab in London, Urban Textures at Gallery 101 in Ottawa, offsite @ toronto, Spiral Space at the University of Manitoba, 1000 words at Gallery TPW, and Centrifugalin Hamilton. He has taken and facilitated courses at Toronto’s Anarchist Free School, and teaches architecture at the Universities of Waterloo and Toronto.

Kathleen Pirrie Adams is a writer, curator and occasional filmmaker. She is the programming director of InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre and is currently working on a project entitled 45 Supreme:Pop Music in Contemporary Art.