Scotiabank Nuit Blanche

City Hall Project

Ou Topos, eine synthetische Erinnnerung, 1989

Suitable for all ages

Thank you to Lory Drusian, Assistant Vice-President Capital Planning & Projects and Daniel Rahimi, Vice-President Gallery Development, Royal Ontario Museum

Ou Topos, 2012

Iris Häussler - Toronto, Canada

Haptic Conceptual Installation

Somewhere beneath the city of Toronto, a man hides behind walls of food cans wrapped in lead foil. Who is this man? Is he a scientist, a mad visionary, an artist? And why has no one ever noticed him?

In a remaking of her work: Ou Topos, eine synthetische Erinnerung, Vienna 1989, Iris Häussler presents a scenario of a man driven by the fear of catastrophe – war, environmental degradation, unnamed crisis – and who prepares for the worst by creating a hidden, perversely logical and defensive sanctuary.

A product of his careful, obsessive analysis of atomic disasters, the man’s physical environment – his survivalist situation – rests upon a kind of delusional ‘end of the world’ logic. Fuelled by his anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear disaster and his scientific knowledge, he created his own fallout shelter where layers of lead cover everything. Encased tins of food create a wall around his living space. While such protection is his peril, fear negates reality. As visitors come across his abode and his body of work, they encounter a man’s obsessions; the Fukushima disaster recalls Chernobyl, and further reminds him of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the time he was a child. His responsive emotions to such threats now define his everyday existence. 

Iris Häussler is best known for her installations where she constructs fictitious personae in realistic environments. Exacting in their material and characterological detail, Haussler’s locations have included rented apartments, hotel rooms and houses. Immersive, convincing and uncanny, philosopher Mark Kingwell has coined the phrase "haptic conceptual" to describe her compelling art-practice. For the 18th Sydney Biennale in 2012, Häussler has created a site-specific, enveloping and striking installation on Cockatoo Island. 


Toronto City Hall underground parking garage, 100 Queen Street West (Accessible from entrance ramp on Bay Street. Wheelchair accessible via "SEAL" elevator on Nathan Phillips Square.)

This project is indoors.