infestation of artists

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We’ll probably never know whether or not this school is haunted, but we can say (for the last month of its existence) it was occupied. With a week and change left until King Edward School is open to the public, PHANTOM WING is growing flesh between its bones – plumpening. Artists are beginning to move in, tape off their spaces, and build. This is the phase that is classically referred to as “pre-production,” but it feels strangely like an infestation…

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The personality of PHANTOM WING is taking shape, and it seems to balance precariously between the haunting, mysterious presence of a poltergeist, and the jokesy, welcoming companionship of Casper the Friendly Ghost. One can only suspect that both halves of this duplicitous balance will be present in the final exhibition – with a touch of elementary charm.

This week, the most publicly visible evidence of the infestation of artists within King Edward School is the new presense of a wrap-around arrow, pointing to the front door of the exhibition. Instigated by the curators as a signage mechanism, the arrow was a pleasantly collaborative project – many artists from PHANTOM WING took up a brush and helped paint while neighbours began to stop by and ask questions about the space.

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The interior of the school is beginning to morph as well…

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A literal infestation is occurring in the former science lab. Artists Sara Tilley, Sarah Smalik, and Jamie Tea have been creating a land of rats, aggressively harvesting and nesting in the space. Infestation performances will take place daily during PHANTOM WING’s open hours (see the schedule here).

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In the second floor bathrooms, Melinda Topilko and Lindsay Joy have been preparing for a Girl Gang Dance Party, re-inventing the all-lady bathroom space as a vehicle for girl talk in all its many forms. Who doesn’t remember what that was like?

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Guy Gardner and Sian Ramsden are working on a more architectural installation, re-appropriating locker doors from the space to create a spectacle of suspended-animation. Swooping through the long hallway, the installation lends a different sort of life to the abandoned space.

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Artists Jack Bride, Chris Zajko, and Jayda Karsten have been working on an apocalypse of paint, feathers, and black-boards. This collective plans to stage performances daily inside their space.

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Downstairs, the Bells are building a bell-installation. Leslie and Chris Bell have collected over 50 fire bells over the past few years. The couple is mid-way through the process of re-purposing the fire bells to create a (relatively) zen, hand-powered sound installation.

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Meanwhile, Lowell Smith and Sarah Storteboom are re-rigging up the school’s PA system to host ongoing intercom performances, walking the viewers through the space, and interjecting a school-ish flavour back into the wing.

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Svea Ferguson has begun work on a wall, built from cinder blocks (if you have any extra cinder blocks to donate to her cause, drop us a line: kingedwardphantomwing@gmail.com).  Strong and institutional, the wall will direct the flow of viewers through the space, whether or not they like it.

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In the courtyard, artists Alia Shahab, Ivan Ostapenko, and Lane Shordee are guiding a clan of Antyx Youth through the process of building a working “waterway” out of flood-scavenged materials. This gang of artists has been working at King Ed the longest, and has thus far succeeded in creating the infrastructure for a found-material waterfall and interior pool.

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This is just a brief selection of the works at King Edward School. There are more artists to come, with many projects that will (inevitably) form in the last week before PHANTOM WING opens to the public.

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So far, working onsite at King Edward School has been an interesting adventure. Sometimes, working late into the night in such an old, cavernous space, you can almost hear the echoes of children running down the hallways… but it’s probably just the wind in the courtyard. Or the infestation of artists, nibbling at the walls.

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