Thursday, November 27, 2008

Actions : What You Can Do With the City at the CCA

The Canadian Centre for Architecture generally impresses with its innovative, thought provoking exhibits. Most of the time, the exhibits remain true to the spirit of the museum: architecture in its many guises. Unfortunately, not a lot of people can relate to architecture, and barely notice it unless they happen to be surrounded by crumbling infrastructure. Yet, the museum manages to sneak a few in that are easily accessible and interesting to almost everyone. The latest exhibit, Actions: What You Can Do With the City is certain to have popular appeal for its radical, wide-reaching theme of activism.

The exhibit presents short vignettes about individuals and artists who have transformed their urban space through action. Guerilla gardeners are there, but so are sheep that mow lawns, cows that occupy a vacant lot, claiming parking spots to lay down grass (while continuing to feed the meter so as to rent the space), and other such radical acts. Some are comic, some are eye opening, some are the fundamentalist side of eco-consciousness, such as the freegans. No matter, one leaves the exhibit with a burning desire to make the world a better place to live.

The exhibit is laid out in the Main Gallery of the museum over several rooms. Typical of the CCA, tables sit at the center, containing models and objects, while videos project on the walls. Each table also contains several oversized books that outline various transformation projects, complete with photos.

The different radical, transformative acts take place globally, from Brazil to Switzerland. While San Francisco, New York, and London have multiple coverage, I was heartened to see how many people care about their environment world wide.

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