On the West bank of the Lower Don River, just South of Queen Street at the Eastern Street bridge, a shrunken cruise ship sits beneath a behemoth buoy. Is it waiting to be rescued, or for you to come aboard and join the party? Who knows.
Advertised via fancy insert in The Globe and Mail‘s Saturday edition a few weeks ago, the 25-foot-long cruise ship is an installation by Québécois art collective BGL and was presented by No. 9, a non-profit environmental/art agency founded by Andrew Davies, who helped develop the Evergreen Brick Works. For two hours on Earth Day (Tuesday, 3:30–5:30 p.m.), No. 9 is hosting environmental walking tours of the area to reconnect Torontonians with the history and ecology of the Don.
Torontoist read the press release wrong and thought it was going to be a sunken ship, which would have been a lot more interesting. We wonder if the 50-person crowd that assembled yesterday at the project’s launch misread the release as well, as the mood was one of general bewilderment. The launch was 20% art and 80% advertisement for WATERFRONToronto‘s Lower Don Lands revitalization project, which would explain the City-funded water fountains and portapotties that seemed to outnumber the audience. When one visitor asked BGL to explain the meaning behind the piece, the artists—dressed as a trio of hipster ship captains—declined and gave the old “that’s for you to decide” line.
While the artists and organizers had a great opportunity to comment on the ecological fragility of the downtown’s main waterway, the project fell kind of flat. On the upside, the installation sets a precedent for the Don to become a cultural destination in Toronto, rather than simply a cesspool. The site is worth a visit for the duck watching and warm spring sun alone.
Check out more photos of BGL’s shrunken ship by Torontoist’s Miles Storey behind the cut.
Photos by Miles Storey