The artist speaking about her video installation Once Near Water: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive (2009). These notes were taken by Susan Crean; quotations are from the text of the installation’s voiceover. (PDF, 106kb) is available from verafrenkel.com.
Once Near Water: Notes from the Scaffolding Archive is about the city and its haunting dilemma. A city that used to be on water, and is no more.
“In the standoff between cranes and water, scaffolding is the interlocutor, the sweetener, the mediator, satisfying the longing for structure on the one hand and love of transience on the other.”
It is the link between structure and transience, between the crane and water, between ambition and loss. And so a metaphor for destruction and creation happening in the city, though it is not always clear why. They have become visual tropes.
While I was producing Once Near Water I heard an interview on CBC about crane operators and drug use. The day we shot on King Street something dropped from one, narrowly missing a worker. The idea of engineering is reassuring, yet such things obviously do happen.
The tape started as something simple — as a lament for the city — but it ended up a much darker work than expected. The water took me. There is a relationship between the scaffolding metaphor and water which is disturbing.
“In the long run, given half a chance, water will win. Dams burst, bridges drown, buildings soften like sponges. Where we walk today may be flooded tomorrow. Transience is all.”
And now, the sightlines between the lake and the city have been destroyed. And to be a lakeside city and not to experience that is, in some way, a huge loss.
From a public talk “Work and Play in the Big City: Diary of a Multidisciplinarian” given at the Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art on February 19th, 2009. An earlier version of Once Near Water was produced for the SHIFT festival in Amsterdam (November, 2008). The completed work, with the collaboration of composer/percussionist Rick Sacks, debuted at the 2009 Images Festival in Toronto, commission by the Festival and Continuum Comtepmorary Music.