In this blog post, we address the origins of PHANTOM WING, its relationship (and non-relationship) with WRECK CITY, and re-cap why pre-demolition spaces are so unavoidably alluring.
When Deeter Schurig (the Project Manager behind cSPACE King Edward) approached us about doing a “WRECK CITY-like project” in the pre-demolition wing of King Edward School, we had to give the idea some serious thought. We come to this project three-months out of WRECK CITY, and in many ways, we’re still completely burnt out. Plus, WRECK CITY is still too sacred in our minds.
Left to right: Lava ladder installation by Matthew Mark Bourree & Mackenzie Boyle, photo by Jennifer Kornfeld. Doorway installation by Ivan Ostapenko and Studio North (Matthew Kennedy & Mark Erickson), photo by Matthew Kennedy. Stairwell installation my The Satisfactory (Mynthia McDaniels & Jane Durham), photo by Mike Tan. 2×4 installation by Hye-Seung Jun, photo by Mike Tan.
WRECK CITY: An Epilogue for 809 was an experiment. Essentially, we were talked our way into 9 houses, 3 garages, and a greenhouse scheduled for demolition, and we facilitated their transformation into temporary art, installation, and performance spaces. Viewers of WRECK CITY were asked to participate with the art and architecture, with each other, and with the space, while playfully challenging the possibilities of “home.” We worked on WRECK CITY as a Curatorial Collective for three months, handling every element of the exhibition, including funding, publicity, insurance, bylaw, admin, volunteers, and a million other little unexpected things. After the Call for Submissions, we were joined by over 100 amazing artists from Calgary and beyond who worked on the project for one month onsite, dissecting, re-arranging, and re-imagining the buildings. The novelty of WRECK CITY earned it local and national press, boosting the project from exhibition status to, in many ways, the renown of a multi-arts festival. At the end of installation, the project was opened to the public for 9-days, and 10,000 viewers came to see what all the fuss was about.
While we take deep satisfaction in having played our part in Calgary’s do-it-yourself cultural history, it’s not entirely outlandish that our independent band of Artist-Curators is still a little burnt out from the run around. So how did we become entangled in PHANTOM WING not three months after WRECK CITY ended?
Above images, left to right: Andre Rodriguez telling stories in an installation by Matthew Mark Bourree & Mackenzie Boyle, bathing installation by Kelsey Fraser, AHOY sign by Cody Swinkles, and “A Passing Mood” by JD Mersault. Photos by Sarah Storteboom.
Above images: Stove/fridge installation by Jack Bride, performance debris from a piece by Wednesday Lupypciw, wall art by Yvonne Kustec, coloured room by Natalie MacLean. Photos by Jennifer Crighton.
Left two images: Lea Bucknell’s camera obscura room, photos by Erin Wallace. Monster image: Studio Cartel’s pop-culture installation, photo by Katy Witt. Right image: Sasha Foster’s dripping room, photo by Sasha Foster.
Here’s the thing: when you’re offered a pre-demolition space to make art in, it’s extremely hard to say no, despite your best intentions. When Deeter asked us to create a WRECK CITY at cSPACE King Edward School – the future home of a massive Arts Hub & Incubator intending to unite many of Calgary’s Artist Run Centres into an uber-mecca in 2016 – my initial response was “that’s impossible. WRECK CITY was all about independence and anti-institutionalism. How could we possibly repeat it?” It became more complicated when we began to discuss our responsibility to counter-culture, the necessity of independence, and the importance of letting the seed we planted with WRECK CITY germinate and grow – ya know, become it’s own thing.
However, the allure of checking out the space was too much for myself and my colleagues, and so we bit the bullet and went to see it. Of course, that was our first mistake. Our second mistake was allowing Deeter, an extremely charming and thoughtful fellow, to be so damn convincing. But we still weren’t entirely committed…
Shortly after exploring the abandoned wing of King Edward School with Deeter, the Artist-Curators sat down as a collective to discuss the prospects of the project. Almost immediately it became evident that another WRECK CITY would be impossible… but a new project would be entirely within the realm of imagination. After all, to be frank, we’re essentially opportunists. Plus, WRECK CITY wasn’t our first pre-demolition project and it won’t be our last (see The Leona Drive Project and The House Project). PHANTOM WING will be its own thing, with a healthy awareness of its origins and a mischievous/playful relationship with The King Edward’s institutional background. In the spirit of the future Arts Incubator, PHANTOM WING will work as an intimate, process-oriented opportunity, allowing a small selection of Artists/Curators a vast amount of space to think and work and build. And if it faintly echoes some of WRECK CITY’s awesome sense of community, then hey, who can complain?