This Arts Festival is Revitalizing Ontario Place
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This Arts Festival is Revitalizing Ontario Place

In/Future sets the stage for the park’s return from irrelevance.


“Monuments,” by Quebec-based trio Acapulco, is a hodgepodge memorial of sorts, ornamenting the geodesic Cinesphere. Photo by Roxy Kirshenbaum.

NAME: In/Future
INSTALLATION: September 15–25
LOCATION: West Island, Ontario Place

Ontario Place opened to much fanfare in 1971, hailed as an icon of the province’s progress. Decades later, its stature in the city’s consciousness has since faded. In/Future, the much-hyped arts and music festival, hopes to bring Ontario Place back onto the public’s radar after a long hiatus.

More than four years ago, Ontario Place temporarily shuttered its doors with an eye to recasting itself as a multi-purpose site. It will reopen in 2017.

Rui Pimenta and Layne Hinton are the creative conspirators behind In/Future, which sets the stage for the park’s return from irrelevance. The festival opens the grounds to artists and musicians to project their take on how the site might appeal to a broader audience—beyond those prone to fits of nostalgia.

Layne Hilton, one of the organizers behind InFuture. Photo: Roxy Kirshenbaum

Layne Hinton, one of the organizers of In/Future. Photo by Roxy Kirshenbaum.

As much as it reimagines Ontario Place’s potential, In/Future also takes a retrospective gaze through several site-specific installations. With “Still,” artist Max Dean’s photographic installations offer up a narrative constructed with the props and mannequins salvaged from the out-of-commission Wilderness Adventure Ride. The inanimate objects—moose, bears, and miners—reassemble themselves into a tableau, continuing to take up residency in the deserted complex.

Laura Millard, the artist behind "Recursive Traces," which displays images of snowmobile-etched circles. | Photo: Roxy Kirshenbaum

Laura Millard, the artist behind “Recursive Traces.” Photo by Roxy Kirshenbaum.

More futuristic is Laura Millard’s “Recursive Traces,” which displays images of snowmobile-etched circles, captured using a drone. Against the backdrop of her illuminated sketches and Styrofoam icebergs, Philip Glass’s “Étude No. 1” is played on loop. The piece is performed by Millard’s collaborator, Simone Jones.

Ed Pien's "Revel" flirts with the ghostly presences that perhaps still linger in the park. Photo: Roxy Kirshenbaum

Through paper cuts, drawings, videos, and installation, Ed Pien’s “Revel” flirts with the ghostly presences that perhaps linger in the park. Photo by Roxy Kirshenbaum.

The sprawling grounds are a natural fit for planting artwork, with its winding paths leading to silos and pavilions stashed with art. It lends itself to a scavenger hunt of sorts, so much so that you’re given a map of the complex, with little in the way of signs pointing to the next discovery. Since most of the exhibits are scattered inside and outside, good weather has to be on your side. (I made the unfortunate decision to go during a downpour.)

If you plan to make the journey (TTC disruptions and street closures be damned), go over the lineup of events in advance and avoid the rain at all costs.