The curators of the Gladstone Hotel’s annual art and design show, Come Up To My Room, are inviting everyone to, well, come up their rooms and check out the many wonderful and bizarre spectacles created by this year’s commissioned artists and designers.
This year’s show marks CUTMR’s 10th anniversary. It features nine installations in the hotel’s second-floor rooms, and 19 other installations in other locations around (and outside) the Gladstone.
“It’s really about the melding of art and design and looking at the space where those disciplines come together,” says curator Noa Bronstein. “Over time people get behind that concept, appreciate it, and fully understand what it means to do an immersive installation. When you walk into a room you’re really surrounded, and it’s totally transformative.”
Curator David Dick-Agnew adds, “We’ve been trying to grow the show as well. During the first few years it was limited to the second floor and over time it’s grown into the lobby and the restaurant space downstairs. This year we’re trying something new by putting stuff right out in front of the hotel.”
The installations outside the hotel include what could be the most audacious item at CUTMR this year. In the courtyard of the Bohemian Embassy, a nearby condo building, people can find what is best described as a fur-clad jungle gym. It’s called Hyde, and it was created by Devon Thomson and Tess Millar. Its goal is to evoke a childlike wonderment.
This year’s indoor exhibits include such quirky sights as Dwell by Womanking Collective. It consists of 27 small, wooden houses perched on the walls of room 204, each one filled with its own collection of objects or materials for the viewer to decipher.
“We came up with the houses as these private worlds we’re going to investigate,” says Meagan Skyvington, one of Womanking’s three members. “We’ve pretty much set up a neighbourhood for people to investigate.”
The exhibits vary as widely as the artists who made them. Self-taught artist Rachel Speirs created a simulated shipwreck on a little island. The installation is based on her own short story, The Island of Bonemeal. Quadrangle Architects made an installation involving many spools of yarn strung up, around, and out of a room, onto a balcony where it continues with a collection of streamers. This year’s show also has a green roof of sorts. Viewable from the large windows leading up to the second floor, it contains Christmas trees discarded after the holidays. Artist Joeseph Clement drove around in a U-haul for 3 weeks collecting them.
“I wanted to create this more naturalized landscape, so I collected these Christmas trees of various sizes,” he said. “What I wanted to do was make it like a successional forest, because that’s how forests naturally start—from meadow, to short trees, to taller trees. I wanted to make it as natural as possible.”
“But it’s just as much a manufactured landscape as what’s behind it,” explains Clement. “It kind of plays off the notion of what we value, our perception of nature, and our desire for nature.”
On a wall in the hallway hangs Tara Keens-Douglas’ piece, Tapestry. Folded squares of craft paper are woven together into diamond shapes and wrapped with coloured strips, creating a rainbow gradient. It takes on a wavy, organic shape on the wall, but she says it could take on whatever shape it needs to.
“I made it flat on my apartment floor,” she says, in a Trinidadian accent.
For a truly mind-bending experience, check out In All Falsehood by Gaston Soucy and Ruth A. Mora of the Sumo Project. A dark curtain sections off the room, which is illuminated with black lights. Passing through the curtain, the visitor encounters a large cube with mirrors on all sides of it and, coming around the side, finds a small walkway though the structure. Inside the cube, white rods glow under the black light and create the eerie feeling that what you’re seeing isn’t real. Soucy says the point of the installation is to mess with human perception. Suffice it to say, he’s done a great job of it.
CORRECTION: January 25, 2012, 3:00 PM Because of an editing error, this post originally said that admission to Come Up to My Room is free. In fact, it’s $10.