A powerful new site-specific art installation by Toronto-based artist Will Kwan can now be seen along a half-kilometre stretch of Toronto’s Lower Don River. A PARK FOR ALL creates discussion about public space, communities’ expectations for urban parks and the perspectives of the Don River Valley Park.
The mural consists of 75 sentences painted in 30-inch high letters can be found along the east side fo the retaining wall from Riverdale to Gerrard Street East and from Dundas to Queen Street East. It will remain on the premises for the next five years and available for viewing at all times.
“Artist Will Kwan looks closely at the ongoing development of the Don Valley area and the ways in which public space serves various publics in vastly different ways. Through the naming of different constituents of an urban park, Kwan ultimately asks the questions about the role of a park in contemporary society.” said Kari Cwynar, Evergreen curator of the Don River Valley Park Art Program.
When the artist began his research into the project he looked at the surroundings. He watched the transformation of the Don River Valley, its surrounding neighbourhoods and observed the area’s revitalization. Located next to the busy highway and nearby distinct and varying neighbourhoods, Kwan drew on the juxtapositions for this installation.
“A Park For All is about confusion between what we think of as the natural world and the built elements of a city. It is about the park as something that is seen as inherently good but also as something that can be exclusionary. The point was that the development of the park and the experience of using this park is like the experience of living in a complex city. You have all these competing elements that have to sit next to each other and depending on how you identify and how you reflect on your position, you can fit into multiple categories, sometimes in multiple contradictory categories,” said Kwan.
Will Kwan is a Hong Kong-born, Toronto-based multi-media artist whose work examines the inequality created and perpetuated through economics and cultural narratives. His work has been exhibited at 2014 Folkestone Triennial, 2010 Liverpool Biennial, 2007 Montreal Biennale, 2003 Venice Biennale, MoMA PS1, The Cooper Union, ZKM (Karlsruhe), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius), the Polish National Museum, Zendai Museum of Modern Art (Shanghai), the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, The Power Plant (Toronto), and The Western Front (Vancouver). Kwan has been artist-in-residence at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (Manchester), the Headlands Center for the Arts (San Francisco), and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Kwan’s work is held in the collections of the M+ Museum (Hong Kong), Folkestone Artworks (Kent), and the University of Toronto.
The Don River Valley Art Program is a series of new temporary sculptural installations, murals, billboards and performance including dance and sound along the Don River. The commissioned works are created specifically for this site by local, Canadian and international artists exploring Don Valley’s ecological, cultural, industrial and Indigenous histories as well as the future of this public space that continue to shape the city’s changing landscape. The 200 hectare greeenspace spans from Pottery Road to Corktown Common.
On Tuesday, September 25, Evergreen presents an opportunity for the public to attend a new Don Dialogue, a conversation with three of the art program’s participating artists – Will Kwan, Gareth Long and Beth Stuart. The discussion will offer insight into the artists’ work and art in public spaces can reflect changing cityscapes.