Built of rubble salvaged from construction sites across the city, Santiago’s J’ouvert Temple is a modern-day capriccio—an architectural fantasy informed by the artist’s experience of ancient and modern-day ruins. Santiago’s work draws specifically on a blend of aesthetic influences he encountered in the architecture of Portugal and Italy, and incorporates that with an aesthetic commentary on the unrelenting expansion and development of Toronto’s waterfront. Viewed through holes in a construction fence, vignettes emerge from the debris, evoking a similar sense of intimacy (albeit on a larger scale) as the artist’s Infinity Series currently on view at 259 Lake Shore Blvd E.
The practice of Curtis Talwst Santiago (born in Edmonton, AB, Canada; lives in Lisbon, Portugal) is decentralized. Santiago studied as an apprentice of Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Santiago has exhibited internationally at venues such as: The New Museum, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Pérez Art Museum Miami; and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah. The artist’s work was featured in the Biennale de Dakar and SITE Santa Fe, both 2018. Santiago’s work is in the permanent collection of the Studio Museum in Harlem.
The Port Lands
55 Unwin Avenue sits in the heart of Toronto’s Port Lands, an area that was created for industry by infill projects that disrupted a vital ecosystem. Marked by heavy industry, much of the Port Lands is now contaminated by the very companies that abandoned their leases before they were bound by current environmental protocols.
The Port Lands and the mouth of the Don River are currently slated to be “renaturalized.” For some, these efforts to remanufacture nature herald the welcome prospect of parkland and residential development; for others, they signal a continued cycle of civic and colonial initiatives that seek to remake nature as a commodity for consumption.
55 Unwin Ave