Image by Daniel Ehrenworth

What were we before?
Curated by Thom Sokoloski

The area surrounding Yonge and Dundas

The area around Yonge and Dundas will be an environment that is participatory, interactive and inclusive – a space where the public can become inspired and engaged in their own individual encounters with art. What were we before? will be a nocturnal urban fantasia through which the moving crowds will ponder their individual pasts and present within the context of Toronto’s own history and of the larger expression of art on a grand scale.

Any revolutionary project today, whether utopian or realistic, must if it is to avoid banality, make the re-appropriation of the body, in association with the re-appropriation of space, into a negotiable part of its agenda.
— The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre, 1974.



Battle Royal, 2009
Shaun El C. Leonardo (New York City, USA)
Performance Art

Inspired by Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, 20 men will step into a 17’ steel cage and fight blindfolded until one man is left standing. The match is a recreation of the novel’s opening scene entitled Battle Royal. Occupying a space between literary representation, wrestling spectacle and art performance, Battle Royal is an unscripted event harkening back to the actual fight to-the-end bouts African Americans were encouraged to enter during post-slavery American South; while manifesting the artist’s own personal fear of societal invisibility.


Space Becomes the Instrument, 2009
Gordon Monahan (Meaford, Canada; Berlin, Germany)
Sound Installation

Massey Hall will become an experimental sound sculpture with live performers playing extra long piano strings strung across the hall, while others swing loudspeakers from an elevated platform, creating the Doppler Effect – a phenomenon where a moving sound changes pitch due to the speed of its movement. An experience for the audience in which the seating will be the stage and the stage, the seating.


SPEED SHIFT Toronto, 2009
Erwin Redl (Bowling Green, USA)
LED Light Installation with Sound

The installation SPEED SHIFT places two artificial visual realities, Minimal Art and advertising billboards, in juxtaposition to create a luminous subterranean passage. A 55m long strip of white LEDs will be attached to a wall of advertising in the Eaton Centre, displaying two wave patterns and accompanied by a rhythmic sound layer moving at varying speeds over time, eventually meeting up in the corridor’s centre.


As Could Be
Paulette Phillips (Toronto)

As Could Be is a three-dimensional animation projected onto fog accompanied by an immersive sound piece. The animation is based on the architectural model designed by the Russian artist Vladmir Tatlin, who proposed (but never built) a monument representing the utopian harmonious relationship between technology and labour. The accompanying audio is a musical composition of interviews with Torontonians speaking about what work means to them today.  




Graffiti Research Lab – Neografik, 2009
Graffiti Research Lab (Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto)
Multimedia Installation

The premiere of GRL's bombIR, an infrared-LED equipped spraycan that allows writers to physically paint buildings and large structures with light. The themes will be encouraged to reflect the 1930’s in Toronto.


Ice Queen: Glacial Retreat Dress Tent, 2009
Cara Spooner (Toronto); Robin Lasser (Oakland, USA); Adrienne Pao (Richmond, USA)
Installation, Performance Art

A ten-foot towering iceberg dress is animated by Butoh-inspired dance and glacial imagery which investigates global warming and its catastrophic effects; as well the dress explores desire, body and land from a female-centered perspective.

Curator Biography

Thom Sokoloski trained in New York City and Paris as an artist, producer and curator. He produced Sid’s Kids - the punk musical, Michael Nyman and band, the Master Musicians of Jajouka (because the ghost of Brian Jones told him to), worked with R. Murray Schafer, created his own works and directed site-specific opera and theatre (in a train station, science centre, swimming pool, castle, canals, abandoned cirque d’hiver, etc.).  His work has been presented by the Holland Festival, Toronto’s WorldStage, Ars Musica Brussels, Strasbourg’s Musica, Musique-en-scène Festival, Huddersfield Festival, Opéra de Lyon, the Canadian Opera Company and Opéra de Montréal. In 2004, he left the performing arts to focus on large-scale public art installations. He premiered Confinement of the Intellect at the inaugural edition of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in 2006, and then as The Encampment in New York City in 2007 and Ottawa in 2008. He also curated for the McLuhan International Festival of the Future (2004), Toronto International Art Fair (Interactive 2005) and Contact (2007).