art of conversation ignites a fiery debate

I had to write this short blog covering the fate of the closest telephone booth art intervention to the Telephone Booth Gallery – The Art of Conversation by the Red Wagon Collective at Dundas W and Pacific  in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto.

This work was created as part of an ongoing project – TEL-Talk: art interventions in telephone booths. The Tel-talk project brings together artists of varying backgrounds, from across the country, to perform in and or animate a telephone booth in response to themes surrounding public spaces, and the disappearance of traditional phone booths. Currently there is an ongoing exhibition at the gallery and a TEL-Talk book is now available!

You can find images of the knitted and crocheted telephone booth cozy by Red Wagon Collective on the TEL-Talk blog -http://tel-talk.blogspot.ca/2012/06/red-wagons-getting-cozy.html

More installation images can be found on the Red Wagon Collective website along with further information on the group – http://gatheringspace.blogspot.ca/

Currently the main project of the Red Wagon Collective is the Monday Art Group at Evangeline Women’s Residence in the Junction. Artists from the community gather every week with women living at Evangeline to make art.

Nancy Viva Davis Halifax and Kim Jackson are the artists of Red Wagon Collective. They live in the Junction neighbourhood and use the arts in community to foster social justice. Both are long-time artist/activists who enjoy disrupting and making visible the borders of neoliberal practices. They think art should be sparkly, tangled, and resistive… and their installation is informed by the use of domestic arts and reflects and engages the work done with women in the Junction neighbourhood experiencing poverty.

The Tel-talk installation troubles the boundaries between community and contemporary art. Their aim with the installation is to intervene into the public space of the Junction with the presence of women from the community who do not generally have a presence.

(from http://tel-talk.blogspot.ca/2012/06/red-wagons-getting-cozy.html)

Many installations during TEL-Talk have been vandalized and objects stolen – especially flags – but for a work to be provocative enough to be set on fire! Wow. That is a conversation indeed.

The artists continued the “art of conversation” after the vandalism, as you can see in the photos below, by using yarn almost as a bodily reaction to the phone being ripped from its housing.

The first vandalism that I noticed was that paint had been poured along the face of the digital display of the pay phone – almost like it was bleeding.  Next the phone had been ripped down. Finally the cozy was set on fire during the Sunday of Canada Day weekend.  Only a few strands of yarn remain and the TEL-Talk sticker.

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A group of kids participating in a local arts camp were very upset to learn that the installation they had visited and examined/explored (it is covered in numerous written quotes) had been destroyed.  They felt like they wanted to do something to help…

 

Bell has since repaired/replaced the phone and the booth is back in working order. Amazing really that there are only a few signs of fire damage to the booth. I am surprised at the resiliency of the structure. They were built to last…but for how much longer?

 

 

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