In my roundup of shows at the Contact festival, I somehow missed the latest exhibition by Michael Awad at Nicholas Metivier. An architect and artist, Awad has been at work for years on his Entire City Project – an encyclopedic take on Toronto’s streets, public buildings and infrastructure. His show closes Saturday, May 19.
There’s another Awad event of interest on Friday: Photo + Design, a symposium at the Design Exchange that brings together Awad with three other notable photographers, Peter MacCallum, Montreal’s Marc Cramer and Vancouver’s Nic Lehoux, and the wonderful Toronto-New York architecture photographer Ben Rahn. They’ll talk about their work and share “their unique perspectives on architecture and design.”
Don’t miss it, or Awad’s show. Using a digital camera apparatus he’s customized himself – bridging still and video technology – Awad captures long, continuous views of places (Queen Street West, Pearson Airport) and buildings (the Eaton Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario) as he walks or drives through them. The resulting works are massive arrays of visual information that condense the city and its inhabitants into dense mosaics.
I wrote about these works for the Globe and Mail in 2005, and some of them were on show at the AGO in 2006. Since then he’s only broadened his scope, with major public art commissions including one, in collaboration with David Rokeby, at the office tower Telus House at the foot of York St. in downtown Toronto. Video here.
As for the Entire City Works, recent subjects include the ring road around Milan, railroad yards, and a continuing assembly of thousands of ordinary Torontonians, captured by his camera’s capacious eye as they ride escalators. Those escalator shots, in particular, are amazing, agglomerative portraits of humanity.
These tiny reproductions don’t do justice to the large-format prints. Do go see them.